AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)-With the new school year just around the corner, student athletes are beginning to prepare for the upcoming season but their biggest opponent won’t be the other team – instead it will be the heat. According to the Centers for Disease Control football players suffer from heat-related illness at a higher rate than any other sport.
Players are exposed to heat index temperatures over 100 degrees while at practice putting them at risk for heat exhaustion and dehydration. Eric Parker, head football coach at Burke County says getting players acclamated to the weather is the first step in prevention.
“I think that’s what you’re seeing from majority of the programs around the state. We get out in the heat in the summer. we don’t necessarily over do it but we do introduce the kids to the humidity and heat that they’re going to have to practice and play in come fall,” Parker says.
School athletic programs must be in compliance with the Georgia High school association practice guidelines that monitor the heat and humidity levels for players.
“We try to get a lot of our conditioning and our weight lifting that’s associated with football done during the day in the building in the air condition or at least out of the heat. If we come out during the day its only for small amounts of time,” Parker told NewsChannel 6.
The teams Athletic Trainer Jonathan Howard, says he’s seen his fair share of heat induced cramps and heat exhaustion and that hos job is to notice the signs that players may be showing signs of a heat-related illness.
“Everyday I’m taking readings before and during practices to make sure that we’re in appropriate levels for their activities outside and if it does exceed those levels they do have to go inside and wait until the temperature outside does get back to a more appropriate level for them to go back out,” Howard says.
8 out of ten heat-related illness occur during practice which is why Howard says listening to your body is the key to preventing heat-related illnesses.
“Your body is going to tell you when its thirsty when you need to get some hydration in you and when you’re not feeling right let somebody know that way you can take that break if they need to come off the field from a practice or a game,” Howard added.
Football practice has already began for High schools in Georgia South Carolina schools begin practicing on Friday. To view the heat and humidity guidelines for GA Click here: https://www.ghsa.net/practice-policy-heat-and-humidity