Athletics Compliance Office > Student-Athletes > Playing & Practice Seasons

The NCAA limits playing and practice seasons and, in particular, the number of hours that a student-athlete may participate in intercollegiate athletics.


In-Season        Out-of-Season (during academic year)
4 hours per day 4 hours per day
20 hours per week     8 hours per week
1 day off per week 2 days off per week 
competition=3 hours Non-FB, skill instruction 2 of the 8 hrs/week
  FB, film review 2 of the 8 hrs/week

Daily & weekly hour limitations do not apply to the following time periods:
  • During preseason practice prior to the 1st day of classes or the first scheduled contest, whichever comes first
  • During an institution’s vacation periods as listed on the official academic calendar and during the academic year between terms when classes are not in session and a sport is in-season

During the Playing Season

Student-athletes may engage in only 4 hours per day and 20 hours per week of countable athletically related activities. A countable athletically related activity is any activity with an athletics purpose involving student-athletes that occurs at the direction of or supervised by one or more institutional coaching staff members (including strength and conditioning coaches).

Outside the Playing Season - Academic Year
In sports other than football:


  • Student-athletes may be required to participate in up to 8 hours per week of required strength and conditioning activities and individualized skill instruction.
  •  No more than 2 hours of the permissible 8 can consist of individualized skill instruction. No more than four student-athletes may be involved in skill instruction at all sites combined at any one time.
  • Student-athletes must be given 2 days off from required activities per week.
In football:
  • Student-athletes must be given nine designated weeks of discretionary time (in which there are no required/recommended activities) between January 1 and the beginning of voluntary summer conditioning in June.
  • Outside the nine weeks of discretionary time, student-athletes may be required to participate in up to 8 hours per week of required strength and conditioning activities and film review.
  • No skill instruction is permitted outside of the playing season in football. However, game film review may be required for up to 2 of the 8 permissible hours per week.
  • Spring practice may occur for up to 4 hours per day on 15 designated practice dates.
  • Student-athletes must be given two days off from required activities per week, even during spring practice.
Outside the Playing Season - Vacation Periods
In sports other than football:
  • Student-athletes may engage in voluntary workouts at Athletic Department facilities. The University's strength and conditioning coaches (and NOT any countable coaches) may design and conduct specific workout programs for returning student-athletes, provided those workouts are entirely voluntary and are conducted at the request of the student-athlete.
  • In individual sports (cross country, track, golf, skiing, swimming/diving, and tennis), student-athletes may also engage in voluntary one-on-one workouts conducted and supervised by an institution's coach. If the workouts take place at a facility that charges a fee, the student-athlete must pay the fee in the same manner as any member of the general public.
  • In sports with a safety exception (gymnastics, skiing, swimming/diving, and field events for track & field), countable coaches may be present and provide safety and skill instruction when a student-athlete uses equipment related to the sport. More than one student-athlete may be present for this instruction. However, the coaches may not conduct the student-athlete's workouts.
In football:
  • During 8 designated weeks of voluntary summer conditioning activities, strength coaches may conduct strength and conditioning workouts for student-athletes. No countable coaches may be present and strength coaches may not report back to countable coaches. In addition, student-athletes may work out at their discretion outside the 8 hours per week. No countable or strength coaches can be involved with these workouts, except that strength coaches may monitor the facility for health and safety purposes.
  • Outside the 8 designated weeks, student-athletes may work out at their discretion. No countable or strength coaches can be involved with discretionary workouts, except that strength coaches may monitor the facility for health and safety purposes.



Compliance, SAAC & SWD meetings

Competition (& associated activities count as 3 hours)

Study hall, tutoring or academic meetings

Field, floor or on-court activity

Meetings with a coach initiated by student-athlete as long as no countable activities occur

Athletic meetings with a coach initiated or required by a coach

Training room/medical treatment/rehab & activities

Setting up offensive or defensive alignments

Travel to/from competition

Required participation in camps/clinics

Recruiting activities (as student host)

Required weight-training & conditioning activities

Voluntary sport-related activities (initiated by SA, no attendance taken, no coach present)

Participation outside of the regular season in individual skill-related instruction with a member of the coaching staff

Voluntary weight training not conducted by a coach/staff member

Discussion or review of game film

Training table, banquets

Visiting the competition site in cross country & golf

Fund-raising, community service, promotional or public relations activities including media activities


Week – Any 7 consecutive days to be determined with discretion. Once the “week” is defined, it shall not change for the duration of the season.

Competition Day – All competition & any associated athletically related activities on the day of competition shall count as 3 hours regardless of actual duration. Countable athletically related activities may not be conducted following competition (including during vacation periods) except between consecutive contests (i.e. doubleheaders).

In-Season – The time between the team’s first officially recognized practice session and the last practice session or competition, whichever occurs later. Seasons can be separated into 2 distinct segments: championship & non-championship.

Out-of-Season – The remaining days during the academic year not included in the in-season period. In sports other than football, participation in up to 2 hours of skill instruction is permissible. In football, skill-instruction activities are limited to review of game film. Conditioning drills simulating offensive/defensive alignments are impermissible. Equipment related to the sport may not be used (hockey & swim/dive exceptions)

Preseason Practice – Hour limitations do not apply during preseason practice prior to the first day of classes or the first scheduled contest, whichever is earlier.

Vacation Periods – Hour limitations do not apply during official institutional break periods when classes are not in session (i.e. fall, winter, spring break). For break sessions falling within a class week, limitations do apply to those days when classes are in session and students must be provided a day off (which may be a vacation day).

Travel Day – A travel day related to athletics participation may be considered a day off, provided no countable activities occurred.

Cancelled Competition – When competition is cancelled prior to the start of competition or prior to it being considered a completed event in accordance with playing rules, an institution may use that day as its required day off, provided no further countable activities occur during that day.   

Final Exam Period – Limitations do apply during final-examination periods and preparatory days leading up to final exams while In-Season. When Out-of-Season, all athletically related activities are prohibited 1 week prior to the beginning of finals through the conclusion of each student-athlete’s exam.

Voluntary Activity – All of the following must be met:

  • Student-athletes are not required to report back to a coach/designee any information related to the activity. Staff members observing activities may not report back to a coach any information related to the activity.
  • Activity must be initiated & requested solely by the student-athlete. Participation is not required.
  • Attendance & participation in the activity (or lack thereof) may not be recorded for the purpose of reporting to coaching staff or other student-athletes
  • Student-athletes may not be subjected to penalties should they not participate & no recognition or incentive may be awarded based on attendance or performance.

Safety Exception – A coach may be present during voluntary activities (which are non-countable) in a practice facility when students are using equipment in the sports of fencing, rowing, swimming, diving and track (field events only).


  • No class time may be missed for practice except due to travel to away-from-home contests (limited exceptions exist when we host a conference or NCAA championship)
  • Countable activities cannot occur between midnight & 5a.m. (except during conference or NCAA championship, competition that concludes after midnight or participation in a promotional activity such as midnight madness)
  • In basketball, if a team participates in 3 contests in 1 week, the team is not subject to taking 1 day off that week but must take 2 days either the preceding or proceeding week.
  • In golf, a practice round of golf may exceed 4 hours in 1 day. However, the 20 hours per week limitation remains in effect. A round played at a tournament site the day before the tournament counts as 3 hours.


ASK BEFORE YOU ACT (574) 631-9647 I







University of Notre Dame

Department of Athletics


Thursday, November 4, 2010

The NCAA salutes the more than 400,000 student-athletes participating in 23 sports at more than 1,000 member institutions.