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RISD football coaches taking extra precautions for heat as 2-a-day practices begin

ROCKWALL – Rockwall and Rockwall-Heath High School football teams began two-a-day practices Monday but, because of the continuous 100+ degree heat, coaches and players are taking plenty of extra precautions, including early morning practices, not wearing pads for the first week, plus making sure plenty of water, Gatoraid and wet towels are available.

Heat exposure was the cause of death last Monday for a Prestonwood assistant football coach in Dallas, a 14-year-old boy in S. Carolina and two high school athletes in Georgia.

Since local high school, middle school and little league football practices began Aug.  8, and 100-degree temperatures are forecast to continue across DFW, what precautions are Rockwall head football coach Scott Smith and Heath head football coach Mickey Moss taking to ensure local athletes stay safe?

According to RISD Communications Director Sheri Fowler, RISD  teams are following UIL recommendations to evaluate temperatures daily and make adjustments as necessary.

They have scheduled early morning varsity practices from 6-8 am, plus afternoon practices from 6:30-8:30 pm, unless the heat is too much.

Junior varsity and freshman are scheduled to practice just once daily from 9 -11 am, Aug. 8-12, and 10-Noon, Aug. 13.

But Aug. 15-18, Rockwall and Heath freshman practices are scheduled from 4-6 and 5:30-8:30 pm, respectively,the hottest time of the day, since both freshman teams have games scheduled Aug. 19 at 4:30 pm at Denison and 5 pm vs. Rowlett at Wilkerson-Sanders stadium in Rockwall. Junior varsity and varsity teams are scheduled to play afterward.

Assuming temperatures continue above 100 degrees as forecast, will teams still practice and play during the hottest parts of the day, TheRockwallNews.com asked?

“Nothing is set in stone,” said Coach Smith. He said they will adjust schedules as necessary to protect athletes from the heat.

Frequent water breaks, watching for symptoms of dehydration and encouraging players to speak up if they’re too hot or thirsty are also being stessed by coaches.

“They’re on high alert,” Fowler said.

Although RISD teams are not following all recommendations of the Dallas-based National Athletic Trainers Association (www.nata.org), which discourages two-a-day practices during the first five days, RISD is following their suggestion to separate practices by at least three hours.

Following are some tips for parents, coaches and players from the National Athletic Trainers Association (www.nata.org) to help beat the heat:

PLAYING SMART AND SAFE

Tips for working out safely in the heat:

  • Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after physical activity.
  • Do not participate in intense exercise if you have signs of an existing illness.
  • Watch for signs of dehydration such as a dry mouth, thirst, headaches, dizziness, cramps, irritability and excessive fatigue.
  • Look at the color of your urine. A darker color is a quick indicator of dehydration.
  • Watch for signs of heat stroke and heat exhaustion such as nausea or vomiting, dizziness, weakness, pale skin, increased heart rate, combativeness and stomach cramps.

ADJUSTING TO THE HEAT

The National Athletic Trainers’ Association recommends student athletes be acclimated to the heat over 10 to 14 days, and these guidelines should be followed to enhance their ability to exercise safely in hot conditions during preseason practices:

  • During the first five days, athletes should not participate in more than one practice per day.
  • If a practice is interrupted by inclement weather or heat restrictions, the practice should recommence once conditions are safe, but total practice time should not exceed three hours per day.
  • A one-hour-maximum walk-through is acceptable during the first five days of the heat-acclimatization period; however, a three-hour recovery period should be inserted between the practice and walk-through.
  • During the first two days, in sports requiring helmets or shoulder pads, a helmet should be the only protective equipment. During days three through five, only helmets and shoulder pads should be worn. Beginning on day six, all protective equipment can be worn and full contact may begin.
  • During days six through 14, double-practice days should be followed by a single-practice day. On single-practice days, one walk-through is acceptable, but it should be separated from the practice by at least three hours of continuous rest.
  • On a double-practice day, neither practice’s duration should exceed three hours, and student-athletes should not practice more than five hours a day. Warm-up, stretching, cool-down, a walk-through, conditioning and weight-room activities are included in the practice time. The two practices should be separated by at least three continuous hours in a cool environment.
  • Because the risk of heat illnesses during the heat-acclimatization period is high, an athletic trainer should be onsite before, during and after all practices.

By J.J. Smith, Publisher

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