In the past, coaching has been nothing less than a demanding year-round job for many high school coaches.

Even when they weren't on the sidelines or teaching Xs and Os, coaches seemed to be busy around the calendar helping to train their student-athletes, conditioning their teams or taking players to camps. And after the season ended, they'd just start the process over with a new crop. They'd almost have to in order to keep up with opponents.That will soon change.

The "Moratorium" is on its way.

The Utah High School Activities Association officially calls it the "Out of Season Participation Rule." The UHSAA and its board of trustees adopted it last spring.

The 1998-99 UHSAA handbook has an entire page dedicated to explaining the details, but it's a rather simple concept. It basically boils down to two things.

1. Each team and individual sport (except swimming and diving) will have a 12-week period during the school year in which coaches can't coach their athletes, hold any organized practices or be involved with them in that sport.

2. Coaches can help condition, but not coach, their athletes during the three weeks prior to their sports' official starting date.

"Essentially," explained UHSAA executive director Evan Excell, "there are 15 weeks each year that they can't coach."

The "dead time" periods are to be observed in three four-week blocks, which can run consecutively.

The team sports - deemed to be football, volleyball, basketball, soccer, baseball and softball - must observe a four-week dead-time block immediately following the championship game for their classification and gender. This means the four-week slot for the Class 1A girls basketball teams will be different from the one for the 5A boys basketball teams, assuming their title games are held on different dates.

Exceptions are spring team sports - boys soccer, baseball (not including 1A fall baseball) and softball. They'll henceforth begin their postseason four-week dead time in August on the starting practice date for football and volleyball.

The other two four-week periods can come any time during the school year. The coaches associations for each sport are deciding when they'll go into effect.

The individual sports - golf, tennis, cross country, wrestling and track - can observe three four-week periods anytime during the school year. This allows athletes to compete in regional and national competitions, which are often held right after the season ends.

Implementation of the required postseason dead time for team sports will begin following the football, volleyball and girls soccer seasons this fall. Originally the spring team sports were supposed to begin their moratorium on Aug. 10, but that would have put them a year ahead of everyone else so they won't start until next year.

There has been some vocal resistance to the moratorium, but proponents insist coaches, athletes and parents will benefit.

"It's dead time, like the NCAA has, where coaches can take a rest and student-athletes won't have to feel that constant pressure," Excell said. "They'll be able to do other things in life - other sports, family things, church activities or whatever they want."

The student-athletes can also continue to specialize in one particular sport, if they so choose. They just won't be able to get their coach's help during the dead times.

That point upset John Hille Jr., whose two oldest children, John and Lindsey, have been basketball stars at Olympus High the past few years. He and a group of frustrated parents were unsuccessful in trying to sway high school administrators to vote against the moratorium last spring.

"I totally agree that a major reason (for the dead time) is to benefit the coaches," Hille said. "But our opinion was that it benefits coaches who don't want to do anything in the offseason. . . . I honestly believe we hinder our kids (with this rule)."

Excell said the UHSAA has received mostly favorable responses, and he's taken more phone calls from parents than from coaches.

"I think coaches are looking forward to a little time off," he said. "I said that I could have used more when I coached for 28 years."