It’s September! In many parts of the country that means falls is on its way in and with changing leaves comes the fall sports season. Whether your youth athletes is playing football, soccer, or giving cross-country a go it’s important to remember that most sports injuries can be prevented with a little planning. Although accidents can and do happen, sports parents and coaches can do a lot to keep players safe this fall season.
High schools should have a certified athletic trainer available during games and practices.
According to USAToday, “only about 40% of high schools had “access” to full-time or part-time athletic trainers.” Athletic trainers are certified by an independent board and require least a four-year degree in athletic training and must pass a proficiency test. Their job isn’t just to wrap up sprained ankles, but also assess concussions on the field, provide immediate medical care should an athlete suffer from heat exhaustion, and are trained on how to use an AED. In case of a real medical emergency every second counts and having an athletic trainer on hand could mean the difference between life and death for a young athlete.
Players need time to adjust to the temperature.
Even if the leaves are changing and pumpkin flavored coffees are back on the menu, the fall sports season could still see days where temperature spikes into the 90s. Players, especially in sports like football that require a lot of extra padding, need time to adjust to the heat. Some studies suggest that because we as a culture as so used to air-conditioning it’s even harder for young athletes to acclimate to outside temperatures. Some football leagues are mandating that the first week of football practice be with minimal equipment (and no tackling) so players don’t overheat.
Should a player suffer from heat stroke it’s imperative that you get their body temperature under 104 degrees within 30 minutes. A large tub and several bags of ice should be kept on hand, especially during the first few weeks of the fall sports season when temperatures can change dramatically.
Dehydration isn’t just for the summer season!
Did you know it actually easier to suffer from dehydration when the weather starts to cool off? First off, since it isn’t as blazing hot and players aren’t sweating as much they don’t realize how much water they are losing while on the field. By the time you realize you are thirsty you are already dehydrated! Secondly, when it’s cold you lose moisture faster with each breath. When you breathe your body heats the air up to your body’s temperature, which is why your exhalations look like fog in cold weather. And in an attempt to maintain core body temperature the kidneys will produce more urine, resulting in more water loss for athletes.
Plan for significant changes in temperature.
Just because the day is warm, the minute the sun goes down the temperature can change dramatically. Fall athletes need to be prepared for every kind of weather including hot, cold, wet and everything in between. Synthetic layers are important as base layers because they dry faster and whisk sweat away (cotton just stays damp) so players stay dry and warm when it’s cold outside. When it’s cold your body pulls heat towards the center of your body, leaving your fingers and toes much more susceptible to the cold air so gear like gloves, thick socks, earmuffs and more should be stashed in their equipment bag.