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.
|| 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
||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 -
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
- 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
Outside the Playing
Season - Vacation Periods
- 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
- Spring practice may occur for up to 4 hours per day on 15 designated
- Student-athletes must be given two days off from required activities per
week, even during spring practice.
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
- 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
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.
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