Mike Mattox doesn’t fondly remember those blazing hot August two-a-day football practices during his playing career at Kossuth High School.
“We all used to worry about how much we were going to have to run at the end of practice,” said Mattox, who enters his fifth season as Booneville’s head coach.
Added Baldwyn sixth-year head coach Michael Gray, “I hated two-a-days; they would always run you to death.”
Well, conditioning remains a part of preseason football, but two-a-day practices have become a thing of the past.
The state’s high schools kick off preseason practice Monday. Most of the schools are already in session, which limits practice time to just once a day. Plus, new guidelines – which include getting players acclimated to heat – allow three hours of practice daily.
“That limits you,” said Mattox, who will conduct abbreviated two-a-day workouts Monday through Wednesday this week. “Our kids don’t start school until Thursday. We will have one-hour morning walk-throughs and a two-hour afternoon practice (Monday-Wednesday).”
Second-year Tupelo coach Trent Hammond hasn’t conducted two-a-days in years.
“Kids can’t give you as much twice a day in the heat,” he said. “When I look back at two-a-days, we always had one good practice and one that caused my blood pressure to go up.”
Ahead of the game
Most teams, thanks to 7-on-7 play in the summer and offseason weight training, are ahead of the game scheme-wise and physically when the whistle blows in August.
“We used to use two-a-days to get into shape,” Hammond said. “Now we can go outside, throw the ball and wear helmets in the summer. Kids get coached up in June and July.
“You are ahead of where you would be.”
Gray believes his players are more prepared for preseason practice than they used to be.
“7-on-7 helps them get involved with each other,” he said. “We do so much in the summer now, the kids are in better condition.”
This season, most teams will have 14 practices – one per day – before their first games. The 15th practice will be their Aug. 22 opener.
“Two-a-days have gone away,” Hammond said. “We come in, do what we have to do and have one good practice every day.”