Published on 09/23/10

Fluids important during hot fall sports practices

By Sarah Lewis

Fall is here, and sports are in high gear. But the Georgia summer heat won’t let up. With temperatures still climbing into the 90s, it’s important to keep athletes safe during workouts.

“The number one thing is to drink fluids before, during and after the workout,” said Connie Crawley, a nutrition specialist with University of Georgia Cooperative Extension. “Coaches need to make sure their players are getting enough fluids and adequate time to rest.”

If the temperatures are high and kids are just getting back to workouts, it is important to increase the duration and intensity of the workouts gradually, Crawley said.

The Georgia High School Association sets rules and regulations for high school coaches to follow when it comes to outside practices. GHSA requires a certain amount of breaks every so often and practices without equipment depending on the temperature. They can even require the players not to have practice if it’s too hot.

Hot temperatures can be scary when not taken seriously. Athletes can become overheated, which can lead to passing out, seizures or even death. It is important to pay attention to the players’ performances and be aware of their conditions, said Wesley Wheeler, a football coach at East Jackson Comprehensive High School in Commerce, Ga.

“If the temperature reaches a certain degree, we must break every 15 minutes to give water and let the players rest,” Wheeler said. “Sometimes we break sooner. You have to take a feel for yourself. If the kids are dragging and pouring sweat, give them a break.”

Players should hydrate before practice and stay away from heavy fatty meals, Crawley said. They also need to know their limits. Kids need to start slow and only do what they can handle.

It is important for athletes use sports or energy drinks appropriately. “Sports drinks are meant for rehydration after an intense workout to replenish electrolytes and fluids lost during the workout,” Crawley said. She added that water is a better choice when players aren’t in practice.

“We took a heat class last summer,“ said Wheeler. “As a coach I couldn’t imagine being responsible for something happening to a player. Parents trust the coaches, and we need to ensure that [players] are taken care of.”

Sarah Lewis is a student writer with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

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