Hard-hitting practices are a thing of the past

New concussion regulations are changing how coaches approach practice.

New policies went into effect in June regarding concussions during sporting events.

According to the Center for Disease Control, girls soccer and boys football are the most dangerous sports when it comes to concussions. More than 173,000 kids are treated each year for the head injury.

A new guideline requires athletes with a concussion to sit games out and get a doctor's approval before rejoining their team on the field.

Now coaches are doing their best to keep their players in the game.

â??I noticed that we haven't been doing more hitting," said Kaleb Hauser, Kalkaska Senior. "We've just been doing a lot more running around and walking through everything."

Football coaches aren't taking any risks when it comes to concussions this season.

â??We don't need to prove who's a He-man out here and just keep pounding it," said Greg Vaughan, Traverse City St. Francis Head Coach. "The head is something we're precautionary about.â??

Coaches are revamping the play book, eliminating unnecessary hits in practice.

â??If you look at the concussion research it's not necessarily the huge hit that everyone thinks. It's the repetition of hits after hit after hit,â?? said Vaughan.

Trimming back on live situations in practice allows the coaches to bring it back to the basics.

â??If anything that's the one thing maybe we're doing a little bit better job of this year is trying to hone in on those details and making sure the kids are disciplined,â?? said Vaughan.

Having a better grasp on the game can help the teams in the long run. In theory, fewer athletes will be sidelined for injuries, something no player looks forward to.

â??Of course the guys are upset about it, but you know, we don't want anyone to get seriously injured out there,â?? said Hauser.

Regardless of how the rules and safety guidelines are altered, some things will never change.

â??My mom's always worried because she's a mom, but she's been exposed to the game all her life so she knows what can happen," said Byron Bullough, St. Francis Senior. "She very well accepts what can happen. We just try, we just go out there and play."

The St. Francis head coach said in the past they usually spent one day teaching the athletes how to tackle properly. This year they spent three days.

The new policy also requires all coaches and volunteers to go through concussion awareness training. Athletes and their parents must sign off on educational information regarding the signs and symptoms of concussions as well.