TEMPLE, Texas — Summer workouts this year will look different for junior high and high school athletes.
The University Interscholastic League sent out its guidelines for summer strength & conditioning workouts and sport-specific instruction beginning June 8th.
"I think the UIL has done a phenomenal job to say that throughout all of this, as much as everybody wants to get back, we're going to be safe first and foremost," Gatesville Head Football Coach Luke Howard said.
In a time where there's been more questions about what the landscape of the fall sports season may look like, it's the first tangible step toward high school sports returning.
"I think it's a dry run to see if we're going to be able to play sports whenever school starts back up," Connally Head Football Coach and Athletic Director Shane Anderson said. "I think if we screw this deal up, if we don't do a good job of following the guidelines and practicing social distancing, then we're setting ourselves up to not have a football season."
In those guidelines, UIL restricts groups to a maximum ratio of 20 students per adult coach and urging schools to maintain the same groups throughout the summer in order to minimize the number of people who would have to isolate should somebody test positive for COVID-19.
Workouts can be done indoors, but only at 25% capacity of the room.
For Gatesville, Howard said that means 30 people can be inside the Hornets' weight room. At Connally, Anderson said it allows for 24 people, including coaches.
"We're going to go in groups of 10 and we're doing that for a number of reasons," Anderson said. "One is we have 20 racks in our weight room and we can put one kid in each rack. We're going to focus on flexibility and core strength where you don't need a spotter."
Should schools use spotters, UIL is urging they wear masks and requiring all equipment that's used to be sanitized before additional use.
Locker rooms are to stay locked, meaning athletes will have to show up dressed and shower at home while bringing their own water and other refreshments. They can't share, either.
And while UIL is allowing an extra day for strength & conditioning each week, up to five from four, it's more than tripled the amount of sport-specific instruction allowed in the summer from two hours per week to 90 minutes each day.
But in those, while offensive and defensive units can do drills together, they cannot do drills against one another.
"I think our days as coaches this coming summer got longer, but that's fine," Howard said. "As coaches, we will do whatever it takes to get our kids in and make sure they're ready."
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