Football practice draws near; UIL rules and schedules set

Published 9:29 am Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Now that we’re about three weeks away from the start of high school football practice , we can really feel the pull of the high school football season. Everything starts moving faster, it seems, like we’re locked into the Death Star’s tractor beam.

As practice begins, it’s a good time to answer some questions we get asked each season about Texas high school football practices. When the season’s first week gets closer, we’ll answer a list of questions about the games and playoff structure. (Division I and II? What is that?)

So this will just pertain to practices.

Let’s start with this:

Why are only some teams beginning practice Monday, while others have to wait another week?

Good question, genuine imaginary person. The University Interscholastic League (UIL), the governing body for athletics for public schools, allows all schools in Classes 1A-4A to begin fall football practice this Monday. In addition, schools in the largest two classes, 5A and 6A, can start Monday if they didn’t have spring football practice. Most schools in 5A and 6A chose to have spring practice, so they can’t start fall practice until Aug. 14.

As a side note, private schools in the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS) will be allowed to begin practice almost a week earlier.

Can teams wear pads on the first day of practice? Can they go right into full contact?

No. The UIL requires a four-day acclimatization period. During those first four days, the only piece of contact/protective equipment a player can wear is a helmet, and no contact activities are allowed.

Do teams still do two-a-day practices?

Some do, yes. But most programs don’t anymore, and the UIL has very specific rules limiting two-a-day practices. Schools cannot schedule more than one practice on the same day on consecutive days.

In addition, during the four-day acclimatization period, if more than one practice is conducted on the same day, the second practice must be a teaching/walkthrough practice with no conditioning and helmets cannot be worn.

How long can practices be in the preseason?

The UIL allows a single practice to be up to three hours long. On days with two practices, the total practice time cannot exceed five hours. (And on days when there is more than one practice, a minimum of two hours of rest time is required between practices.)

Are there limits to the amount of contact teams can have in practice?

In the preseason, other than what’s mentioned above, no. During the regular season and playoffs, players are not allowed to participate in more than 90 minutes of full contact practice per week.

What is full contact?

Drills or game simulations with “live action.” USA Football, the governing body for amateur football, defines live action as contact at game speed where players execute full tackles at a competitive pace and taking players to the ground.

* * *

So now the countdown begins to the regular season, which starts with games on Friday Aug. 31 for Orange County schools.Here’s the season schedule for UIL schools:


Date Event or Deadline
August 6 First day of conditioning (No contact activities permitted. No contact equipment except helmets may be worn.)
August 11 First day of full contact
August 16 First scrimmage
August 22 Second scrimmage (5 Day Rule applies)
August 27 Third scrimmage (Schools opting for a third scrimmage shall not play during week one)
Date Event or Deadline
August 13 First day of conditioning
August 18 First day of full contact
August 23 First scrimmage
August 29 Second scrimmage (Schools opting for a second scrimmage shall not play during week one)


Week Dates
Week One August 30, 31, September 1 (Sub-varsity football teams in Conferences 5A & 6A can play on Wednesday during Week 1 only if the varsity team plays on Thursday of that same week.)
Week Two September 6, 7, 8
Week Three September 13, 14, 15
Week Four September 20, 21, 22
Week Five September 27, 28, 29
Week Six October 4, 5, 6
Week Seven October 11, 12, 13
Week Eight October 18, 19, 20
Week Nine October 25, 26, 27
Week Ten November 1, 2, 3
Week Eleven November 8, 9, 10
Date Deadline
November 10 District Certification – Schools have 11 weeks to play a maximum of 10 games.


Week Dates
Week One November 15, 16, 17
Week Two November 22, 23, 24
Week Three November 29, 30, December 1
Week Four December 6, 7, 8
Week Five December 13, 14, 15
State Championships December 19, 20, 21, 22(All Conferences)