As the scorching heat of summer stretches into the early part of football season, maintaining your team’s health, comfort, and performance becomes a top priority. Playing in hot weather can lead to exhaustion, dehydration, and even heat-related illnesses. To ensure your team’s safety and success, it’s crucial to implement effective strategies to keep your players cool on the field. In this blog, we’ll explore a variety of tips and techniques to help you keep athletes cool, comfortable, and performing at their best during those hot and humid games.
Hydration is Key
Proper hydration is paramount when playing in hot conditions. Encourage your players to drink water several hours before practice or games, and continue hydrating throughout. Sports drinks with electrolytes are also great for pre and post-hydration, but water should still be the main source.
Shade and Rest Areas
A great way to keep players cool and feeling rejuvenated after a long offensive/defensive series on the field is to set up shaded areas on the sidelines where players can take breaks and escape the sun. Make sure these areas are equipped with cool, damp towels, and perhaps even fans or misting systems to help accelerate recovery and cool down body temperatures during breaks.
Proper nutrition also plays a gigantic role when preparing to play in hot weather. Encourage your team to consume light, nutritious foods leading up to and following practice or games. Foods rich in water content, like fruits and vegetables, can also contribute to hydration. Avoid heavy, greasy meals that can slow you down, increase discomfort, and ultimately decrease your performance.
With proper planning and a focus on player safety, you can keep your football team cool and focused on the game even in the most challenging heat. By implementing these strategies and paying close attention to your players’ well-being, you’ll create an environment where everyone can perform their best while staying protected from the heat.
While you might apply all of these tips to prevent your team from overheating this season, it’s also critical to be able to spot the signs of heat exhaustion in your players. According to the Mayo Clinic, possible heat exhaustion symptoms include the following:
- Excessive thirst
- Muscle cramps or aches
- Clammy skin
- A slow heartbeat
If you believe a player might be suffering from heat exhaustion, they must take a break in a shaded area, drink plenty of fluids, and receive immediate medical attention.