NCHSAA releases updated guidelines for off-season skill development

— The N.C. High School Athletic Association released updated guidelines for off-season skill development sessions on Wednesday, which closely mirror the previous Phase 2 guidelines with some additional information.

Skill development sessions are held during the school year each year, but have different rules in place from summer workouts.

“Since the school year has begun, we are now also into that period of time when skill development guidelines must be used. Unlike normal starts to the year, ALL sports are in the off season and are governed by those skill development guidelines,” NCHSAA Commissioner Que Tucker wrote in an email to member schools on Wednesday morning.

On any given day, a student-athlete is limited 90 minutes of skill development, including weight training or conditioning, warm-ups, cool downs, meetings, video review, breaks, and other similar activities. Skill-development sessions are optional and cannot be made mandatory.

“Any coach who promotes the idea that taking part in off-season skill development is required is blatantly out of compliance with the intent and purpose of this rule,” the new NCHSAA guidelines say.

Eighth graders are not permitted to participate in skill development and contests and combined practices are prohibited.

Tucker also said the NCHSAA has received multiple reports of high school coaches using outside teams in order to get around the rules.

“While we understand that our students are gravitating to some of these teams, it is essential to remember that there are no changes relative to coaching such teams,” Tucker said.

NCHSAA rules allow coaches to coach club teams, but there are set numbers for the maximum number of athletes a coach can coach from his or her school.

There are no changes to the limitations on the length of skill development sessions, which remain capped at 90 minutes. There are also no changes to the limit on the number of people who can be in attendance at the skill development sessions. Outdoor venues are limited to 25 people, indoor venues are limited to 10 people. These restrictions include all coaches ,athletes, managers, trainers, and other personnel.

The NCHSAA has also not made any changes to the safety guidelines put in place for Phase 2. This includes things like regular cleaning of surfaces and equipment, pre-participation temperature and symptom checks, recommendation to wear face coverings, washing hands, banning spitting, prohibiting spectator, and other steps, including sport-specific guidelines.

To read the entire list of guidelines, click here.

Earlier this month, the NCHSAA announced an overhaul to the sports calendar for the 2020-2021 school year, due to the coronavirus pandemic. All sports seasons have been shortened and calendars adjusted. The first sports scheduled to resume are cross country and volleyball on Nov. 4, followed by swimming and diving later in the month, and basketball in December. Football is slated to begin in February.

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