Indiana Shortens Preseason

By Staff

Coaching Management, 11.7, October 2003,

Despite protests from coaches around the state, the Indiana High School Athletic Association has voted unanimously to reduce preseason practice sessions in winter and spring sports. Starting with the 2004-05 school year, all winter and spring teams will begin tryouts and practice two weeks before their first permissible contest date.

Under current rules, sports teams are allowed to practice for differing lengths of time, with softball given five weeks of preseason. With the new rules, all practices will begin on Mondays and teams will have between 12 and 16 days of practice before the first contest date, depending on the day of the week the season starts.

For athletic directors, the change means less overlap between sports, reduced competition for playing facilities, and fewer demands on student-athletes, especially those playing multiple sports. But for coaches, it means losing practice time with players and finding ways to fit five weeks’ worth of preparation into two weeks.

“Softball coaches aren’t very happy with the change,” says Pete Iussig, Co-Chair of the Indiana Coaches of Girls Sports Association and Head Softball Coach at Lowell High School. “It will make our jobs a lot tougher, because we’re going to have to squeeze the same amount of preparation into a shorter period of time.

“Some coaches spend anywhere from three days to two weeks trying to make cuts and figuring out who’s going to be on j.v. and varsity teams,” continues Iussig. “If you spend even a week on that, you’ve only got a week left to get ready for the season, which puts you in a bind.”

Blake Ress, Commissioner of the IHSAA, explains that the rule was put in place to make preseason training consistent among sports seasons. “In the fall, sports have had two weeks, and that seems to work fine. We don’t get a lot of complaints about that. But in the winter and the spring, depending on the sport, they may have two or three or even six weeks of preseason practice, and the athletic directors asked why. If we make preseason training consistent for everybody, it will alleviate pressure on facilities shared by multiple teams.”