Area high school football and cross country teams started practices this week and coaches are being reminded to make sure their athletes are drinking plenty of water. James Lang, an Iowa State University assistant professor of kinesiology, says having a “hydration strategy” is critical to keeping kids safe. He says that strategy should include liquids 2 to 3 hours before practice.
Lang advises coaches to be proactive about hydration, rather than reactive.
In addition to plenty of water, Lang suggests coaches give athletes time to acclimate to the heat by scheduling practices in the early morning or evening and – for football players – limiting pad use in the first week. Lang says the warning signs of dehydration can be subtle, but generally include a dull headache, dizziness or nausea.
According to Lang, coaches should require athletes to take water breaks, rather than simply making water available.