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Less Full-Contact Football Practice In 2015

Jim Larrison / flickr

Jim Larrison / flickr

Next year, a new law takes effect that limits full-contact middle school and high school football practices in California.

Assemblyman Ken Cooley authored the new law and says he hopes it will reduce the number of concussions suffered by young football players.

"The bill bans off-season, full-contact. It restricts full contact during the pre-season -which is 30 days before a high school or middle school season starts. And then during the season itself to no more than two days of full-speed contact -no more than 90 minutes a day."

Parents like Michael Choice say they agree with the idea of limiting contact to the head, but they're worried kids may suffer more head and neck injuries if the time dedicated to full-contact tackling drills is limited.

"Proper technique is not using your head. It's using your shoulders and your arms, lowering your waist and hitting through the body. They're not teaching kids to go ram your head into somebody. Proper technique, your head shouldn't be involved in the first place."

Other parents like Shelley Fish say they fully support the law.

"I'm all for it. I think kids of a certain age shouldn't even have full contact. I think some of these sports are a little bit too rough and I'm all for eliminating contact for smaller kids."

Assemblyman Cooley says the law limits contact that might result in a concussion.

"I think if you want to play football, you've got to be comfortable being in pads and operating and a kid can practice with his pads on all year long. The bill does not restrict that."

It also requires an athlete who suffers a concussion to complete a seven-day "return-to-play" protocol that is being developed by the California Interscholastic Federation, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Sports Medicine.

The CIF expects to vote on the protocol in January and will likely hold coaches clinics in February.

A licensed health care provider must approve an athlete's return to participate in a practice or game regardless of the sport. The CIF says girls soccer has the second-most concussions of any sport.

According to the Sports Concussion Institute, 22-percent of all sports-related concussions occur during practice.

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