As an intense heatwave continues to grip Georgia and the entire southern part of the country, the annual migration of football players to the practice field is taking place all this week at schools of all levels. Coaches and players are studying the weather reports and player’s reactions to the hot and humid conditions as well as the playbooks.
Some coaches are thinking less is more these days when it comes to practicing in heat indexes over 100 degrees. The players need to get time in on the field, but night practices are more common as are early morning sessions. Everyone involved in strenuous activities knows how important it is to stay hydrated and to monitor how they feel. Hot weather is no joke and it has to be taken seriously.
Counties like Lee and Dougherty have set heat index limits. When the index reaches 116 in Lee and 105 in Dougherty, it is too hot to practice.
Counties are taking other precautions at football practice this year. Here are some things you may notice.
Water, Water, Everywhere – Years and years ago drinking water while exercising was a sign of weakness or being wimpy. Not so anymore, players are encouraged and forced to take water breaks. Lee County Head Football Coach Dean Fabrizio says that whenever one of his players needs water, they can take a water break.
Breaks – Coaches and administrators are monitoring this heat index. When conditions are too hot, the players are let back inside to cool off. The Georgia High School Association allows each school system to set their own rules when it comes to the heat.
Certified Trainers – Gwinnett County Schools have partnered with Gwinnett Medical Center’s Sports Medicine Program so they have access to certified trainers that will be present at every practice and game. This is or football and other sports as well.
To show that those around the state are taking this seriously moving forward, a University of Georgia Professor, Michael Ferrara is completing a four-year study on heat illness in football. The study is following 25 football teams around the country, professional, college, and high school. His early findings say those living in the South are more at risk to suffer from the heat. “If any athlete is showing signs of illness, they should be taken off the field immediately”, say Ferrara.
As if football coaches don’t have enough on their plate already, this is one more thing to worry about. But this issue is bigger than winning and losing football games, and everyone involved needs to know that.