The National Athletic Trainers’ Assocation, Inc. released preseason heat-acclimatization guidelines for secondary school athletics, encouraging coaches to ease their players into the preseason training regimen to help avoid heat-related illnesses.
Here are the seven recommendations for the first 14 days of the season – also known as the head acclimatization period.
No doubles in the first five days. Days 1 through 5 of the heat-acclimatization period should consist of the first five days of formal practice. During this time, athletes may not participate in more than one practice per day.
Stop practice after three hours. If a practice is interrupted by inclement weather or heat restrictions, the practice should recommence once conditions are deemed safe. The total practice time should not exceed three hours in any one day.
Start double-sessions with one walk-through. A 1-hour maximum walk-through is permitted during days 1–5 of the heat-acclimatization period. However, a 3-hour recovery period should be inserted between the practice and walk-through (or vice versa).
Ease into full-contact practices. During days 1–2 padded practices in the heat-acclimatization period, a helmet should be the only protective equipment permitted. During days 3–5, only helmets and shoulder pads should be worn. Beginning on day 6, all protective equipment may be worn and full contact may begin. On days 3–5, contact with blocking sleds and tackling dummies may be initiated. Live contact drills should begin no earlier than day 6.
Space out double sessions. Beginning no earlier than day 6 and continuing through day 14, double-practice days must be followed by a single-practice day. On single-practice days, one walk-through is permitted, separated from the practice by at least three hours of continuous rest. When a double-practice day is followed by a rest day, another double-practice day is permitted after the rest day.
Cap practice time at five hours per day. On a double-practice day, neither practice should exceed three hours in duration, and student-athletes should not participate in more than five total hours of practice. Warm-up, stretching, cool-down, walkthrough, conditioning, and weight-room activities are included as part of the practice time. The two practices should be separated by at least three continuous hours in a cool environment.
Have an athletic trainer on site. Because the risk of exertional heat illnesses during the preseason heat-acclimatization period is high, we strongly recommend that an athletic trainer be on site before, during, and after all practices.
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