Yesterday marked the end of the GHSA’s required five-day acclimation period, and the beginning of full-contact, padded practices for the Commerce Tigers.
The acclimation period is just one of several new rules instituted by the GHSA to address heat-related safety issues. The five-day rule stipulates that teams can work out only in helmets and shorts for the first five days of practice.
Head coach Marvin Justice has absolutely no complaints concerning the new rule.
“It’s just what we have to do,” said Justice. “We follow the rules like everyone else. If anything, it has made our practices more efficient when we have constraints on them.”
While the acclimation period might help some teams get used to the heat, Justice is confident that his Tigers are more than ready to deal with full-speed practices.
“Ninety-nine percent of our kids have been working out all summer,” said Justice.
“They have been putting in up to four hours a day, so by this point they are in good shape.”
The Commerce coaching staff also takes no chances when it comes to keeping their players hydrated and cool.
“We’ve had no problem with the heat,” said Justice. “We check the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) index every day and give the players 3-4 water breaks every hour. They aren’t having any problems with it.”
Although Justice feels the Tigers have shown great strides during summer practices, he is more than ready to suit up and go full contact.
“If you are smart and creative as a coach, you can get a lot done without pads,” said Justice. “By now, we are at a point where we need to move forward and start playing the game.”
As for the players, Justice thinks that some might be ready to strap up and go, while others would like to opt out of wearing the hot, bulky equipment for just a bit longer.
The Tigers begin the 2012 season with high hopes, coming off Justice’s 4-7 inaugural season as a head coach.
The Tigers are prepped with an experienced offensive line and increased strength and speed. The main area of concern staying healthy. The Tigers were haunted by injuries last season, with eight different players missing substantial playing time.