The environment, equipment and intensity can place athletes at risk of heat illness. Heat illnesses represent conditions resulting from heat stress, which can be imposed by a number of factors but usually result from the environment or the body creating this heat load itself. Heat illnesses can range from minor to severe, and in particular, exertional heat stroke is a life-threatening emergency.
The following are important for understanding the heat acclimatization model:
- Use good judgment. The times listed below are maximum practice times as you acclimate to the heat. Conditions may warrant shorter practice times and intensity.
- Practice is defined as time on the football field (including warm-up, stretching, break time, cool down and any conditioning time).
- These guidelines call for a two-week period (10-14 days) when coaches gradually increase the length of practice and the amount of equipment that can be worn.
- At no time throughout the preseason or regular season should teams practice more than once per day (no two-a-day practices). Teams should be allowed to practice a maximum of four times per week during the preseason.
- Heat acclimatization days should be continuous as possible, meaning few days off. However, if your practice schedule is only a few days a week, then remember that the days between your practices (the days off) do not count toward acclimatization days. It will take longer to acclimatize in situations such as this.
Heat preparedness and hydration is one of the most important topics in youth and high school football. USA Football partners with the Korey Stringer Insititute to teach how to properly deal with and minimize the risk of athletes practicing and playing in hot conditions.