In the football world, August brings the heat in more ways than one. Heat illnesses are common, but certainly avoidable, in youth football. It first starts with the coaching staff, as each coach should be thoroughly educated on topic of heat exhaustion and illness. Attitude matters- do not discount the dangers of the sun.
Youth football athletes may suffer from various levels of heat related injuries(from minor to more severe). For states in the southern regions, particularly Texas, heat related injuries are especially a concern. As coaches we will pay attention to exertional heat illnesses, these are caused by intense exercise in the sun. Football kids wear equipment which compounds the increase in body temperature. Here are tips for football play in hot weather:
- Coach, be cognizant of best times to work your kids on the practice field. Morning hours, and after 7pm are generally best times to avoid the high heat.
- Take breaks out of the sun. We are believers in efficiency at practice, therefore
- Hydration is always a priority, therefore water consumption is key and as a coach you should be obsessive about ensuring your kids are properly hydrated. It’s all about consistency (before, during and after time on the football field). Water, water and more water. Drinking 8 ounces every 20 minutes is favorable.
- Get your kids used to the hot temperatures. Look for signs of heat exhaustion. Deep heavy breathes, vomiting, cramping (indicates dehydration), mental confusion, signs of dizziness or fatigue, listen to what your kids tell you. Even mild cases need attention.
- Encourage your kids to eat foods, specifically fruits, that help to hydrate such as watermelon, and citrus fruits.
- Have a cooler of ice at every game. Dip towels into these buckets and apply to your athletes. You will find many uses for these ice coolers!
Read our article- Hydrate and Dominate
When it comes to heat exhaustion as an athlete, it’s not about being a hero on the field, instead it is important to pay attention to what your body is saying to you. If you feel ill, come off the field and seek medical care.