Two NFHS rule proposals have been approved for the 2016 season:
Tooth and mouth protectors that are completely clear or completely white are no longer illegal. NFHS football director Bob Colgate said other sports may follow suit.
Football gloves are now permitted for game play if they meet specifications from NOCSAE or SFIA. The gloves must have a visible seal of approval from NOCSAE or SFIA on the outside of the wrist.
Uniforms and Equipment
Colgate emphasized that shoulder pads and all pads worn above the waist on the torso must be completely covered by the jersey. Parts of the shoulder pads cannot be sticking out and the back pads can’t be sticking out from the jersey. The jersey must be long enough to cover the top of the pant and it must be tucked in if necessary.
The body of the jersey shall be white for visiting teams and the body of the jersey shall not white be white for home teams. The visiting team is responsible for avoiding similar colors, but if there is doubt, the referee may require the home team to change jerseys.
The front and back of the jersey may contain the school name, team logo, school nickname and player name. Team nicknames such as Hitters or Red Swarm and team slogans such as Legacy, Pride or Brotherhood are illegal on the front or back of the jersey. Designs on the shoulder pads, such as the stars and stripes of the flag, are also illegal.
Football pants must cover the knee at the high-school level and players must wear knee pads.
The NFHS Football Jersey Rules (1-5-1 and 1-5-3) are available in their entirety at http://www.nfhs.org/media/1016566/nfhs_football_jersey_rule_2016.pdf.
Overbuilt facemasks are still permissible at the high school level. They are illegal in the NCAA and NFL.
Colgate said there may be a jump in participation in 8- and 9-player football – and a decline in 11-player football – because some schools are having difficulty finding enough players to have a traditional-sized team.
Uniforms and Equipment
The mascot name is appropriate for use on the jersey but no slogans are allowed. The NCAA’s Ty Halpin said it will probably stay this way long-term. As long as the jersey number is discernible and clear it is fine. Halpin said some conferences are looking at being more restrictive with uniforms and that is fine with the NCAA.
Halpin reiterated the reasons for not allowing overbuilt facemasks – the potential for finger injuries and problems with a mercenary-type “Gladiator” look.
The new standards for boys and girls jerseys go into effect July 1 in order for officials to distinguish the libero from the rest of the team. Either the libero or the other team members are required to be in a solid colored jersey of contrasting colors. This helps determine the libero’s legality when playing the ball because identification can be difficult if a team is wearing multi-colored jerseys.
If an entire team is wearing solid-colored jerseys, the libero or the rest of the team must be wearing contrasting colors. These standards went into effect for the NCAA in 2013 and USA Volleyball in 2014.
The webinar slides on the 2016 volleyball uniform standards can be viewed at http://www.nfhs.org/media/882333/webinar-ppt-update.pdf.
Wearing a soft helmet in a game is not permitted by rule and to wear one, a student-athlete would have to make a request for permission through a school or state association. Becky Oakes of NFHS said this is to prevent a player from making just anything to wear in an actual game. Players may wear a hair device that is soft and no wider than 3 inches, on the head or in the hair, and it doesn’t have to match the uniform color.
Beach and adaptive volleyball
Oakes said there are discussions on whether sand/beach volleyball will come into play since it is becoming an NCAA scholarship sport. Sitting volleyball could become an adapted team sport, which would require lower nets and net systems such as the standard-size Paralympic net.
Uniforms and Equipment
Player jerseys must be marked with an Arabic numeral. This was added to provide a better definition of the jersey numeral – making sure numeral styles that are difficult to discern are not used.
Effective in 2019, the jersey number must be a color in distinct contrast from the color of the jersey, irrespective of any border around the number. A jersey may contain a single conference logo not to exceed 3x5 or 4x4 square inches. The logo must not obstruct a player’s number.
The NCAA’s Rachel Seewald said there is no push from coaches to make any changes with the volleyballs. The NCAA will also not allow bikini bottoms to be worn in beach volleyball. They were allowed by the AVCA (American Volleyball Coaches Association) but not the NCAA since beach volleyball became an emerging sport.
Sleeves must cover the shoulder pads on boys lacrosse uniforms. All of the boys lacrosse uniform standards can be found at http://www.nfhs.org/activities-sports/lacrosse-boys/.
This is Year 2 of the phasing-in stage of boys lacrosse sticks to align with NCAA specifications. Those specifications take effect in 2018 and can be found at http://www.nfhs.org/sports-resource-content/boys-lacrosse-rules-changes-2016/. There is no rule prohibiting colored mesh, but NFHS’s Susie Knoblauch anticipates it will be a rule proposal this year, since some coaches believe the colored mesh impedes the ability to see the ball.
Knoblauch said there will be future discussion for boys on chest protectors and if the requirements of shoulder pads need to be more specific and outlined for coverage and efficacy.
Knoblauch said girls lacrosse is entering a joint effort with US Lacrosse to collaborate on development of a rules manual.
Men’s jerseys must have light-colored numbers on dark-colored jerseys. Women’s shorts must be a dominant, solid school color.
NCAA’s Ty Halpin said there is currently no push to make changes to the pocket depth of the sticks. The color of the pocket is white but Halpin said there is interest in having it the same color as a team’s colors.
Women’s eye protection by 2017 must meet the most current ASTM standard. NCAA’s Rachel Seewald said there is no rule on using headgear but it will be discussed in June. If the change is made for health and safety purposes it can go into effect immediately.
US Lacrosse is studying box (indoor) lacrosse and possibly incorporating it at the NCAA level. Seewald said there is also a lot of growth in the women’s game in the western United States.
The NCAA’s Ben Brownlee said players must wear compression sleeves consistent with a team undershirt – one color and the same length on each arm for pitchers.
Brownlee said one of the hottest topics is bat tampering. Coaches have discussed certain bats being tampered with but Brownlee said there was no formal action to be considered right now.
Brownlee also said there is not much discussion to mandate the use of flat-seamed baseballs in all NCAA games. Flat-seamed baseballs are currently used in NCAA postseason play.
A pace-of-play pitch clock was not adopted as an experimental rule last summer.
This is a rule-change year in early June and NCAA’s Ty Halpin said they would like to a see an increased amount of scoring chances - although goal-scoring was up this year.
Halpin said Division I men’s coaches have regular discussions about the NHL’s plan to cut down on the size of goalie equipment. Halpin said D-I coaches want to be on the same page with the NHL’s plans.
HECC has a task force with the CSA in Canada to develop a national test for ice hockey helmets. Halpin and the NFHS’s Dan Schuster said they have received no inquiries regarding the Virginia Tech helmet rankings from last year.
The rules committee meets at the end of April and NFHS’s Dan Schuster said there are no proposals on equipment changes for this year. Schuster said they are satisfied with the current state of helmets but are pushing for an emphasis on proper fitting of helmets and facemeasks.
Schuster said there are no NHL-type proposals about the size of goalie equipment and it’s not a direction the NFHS can go for a number of reasons.
HECC (Hockey Equipment Certification Council) representative Terry Smith said they have formed a task force with the CSA Group in Canada to develop a national test for ice hockey helmets. Schuster and Halpin said they have received no inquiries regarding the Virginia Tech hockey helmet test ratings done in 2015.
Any proposed rule changes are still going through the approval process and may not be announced until early May. Proposals were submitted which would give wrestlers the option of competing in an MMA-style uniform. We will update you on any changes.
NOCSAE Executive Director Mike Oliver conducted a separate breakout session this year and one of the primary topics was the proposed chest protector standard to prevent commotion cordis that was introduced in January.
“Any sport with a likelihood of the athlete being struck with a projectile has the risk of commotio cordis,” Oliver said. “The design of products to protect against commotio cordis has to cover the cardiac silhouette and not just be symmetrical. Right now everything is on the table.”
NFHS Injury Report
NFHS’s Bob Colgate relayed some of the information compiled by Dr. Dawn Comstock, who has been analyzing high school athletic injury data for 10 years.
In 2014-15, the highest injury rate per 1,000 athletic exposures was football competition. All reported sports had higher injury rates in competition than in practice except boys swimming.
With reported changing injury patterns, head and face injuries are up from 12.3% of all injuries in 2005-06 to 27.4% in 2014-15. Diagnosed concussions are up from 9.1% in 2005-06 to 24.5% in 2014-15 – but Comstock believes this number has peaked. Football concussion rates rose from 2008-09 to 2012-13 and Colgate said girls do a better job of reporting concussions than boys. Concussion rates per 10,000 exposures show football, girls soccer and boys ice hockey as the top three in competition with football and cheerleading the top two in practice.
Ankle and knee injuries and strains, sprains and fractures have declined since 2005-06. In wrestling, 31 percent of skin infections occur in the head and face.
The injury patterns were also higher for concussions, ACL sprains, surgery and time loss on artificial turf than natural turf.
NCAA Injury Report
Dr. Zachary Kerr presented information from the NCAA injury surveillance program that more than half of all injuries occur in practice. Ankle sprains and concussions are the top two injuries.
Kerr said ACL tears are decreasing at the NCAA level. The four sports with the highest concussion rates are wrestling, men’s and women’s ice hockey and football.
Kerr added that the NCAA considers the sporting goods industry as a way of injury intervention through safer equipment. He cited a change of gymnastics apparatus designs leading to reduced injury rates
Dan Calandro, the NCAA Director of Playing Rules and Officiating, said there is some discussion about men’s college basketball games changing from halves to quarters. Women’s basketball now plays its games in quarters.
With regard to uniforms, Calandro said the bottom line is people must be able to see the number and have a contrast between the colors so the number is visible.
Calandro said the NCAA rules committee is debating what to do with wearable technology and they are having a hard time on whether to allow it and how to allow it. Calandro said there are safety concerns and use of information concerns.
Safety Programs for High School Team Sports
Bill Curran, the Director of Student Activities and Athletics for Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia, made a presentation on an initiative started in his district a few years ago to address safety in high school sports programs. Curran started with the district’s 25 football programs to look at being more proactive instead of reactive.
Curran said “we knew it would be challenging and we couldn’t mandate it to coaches.” He said they considered all options and concluded the coaches would have to own and lead this initiative for it to be successful.
They started working with USA Football on Heads-Up Football and the coaches decided to adopt it. The initiative re-engaged their coaches association.
The initial results in Year 1 saw concussions and injuries go up but they stuck to the program and have now seen a 15% reduction in overall injuries. They have expanded the program to other sports, including lacrosse and soccer.
“At Parent Nights the No. 1 thing a parent says is, ‘I don’t want my child to have a concussion playing football,”’ Curran said. “We know programs are getting safer. Perspective is critical and parents and athletes need to know injuries will happen.”