This week every year for the past 11 years I have written an article to raise awareness of heat risk during upcoming high school practices and games for fall sports.

This week every year for the past 11 years I have written an article to raise awareness of heat risk during upcoming high school practices and games for fall sports.

I coached football for 32 years and experienced a heat stroke myself – I totally understand the seriousness of excessive heat exposure. Early preparation is crucial.

Kids in our current society are not as acclimated to heat as they once were. It is an age of air conditioning and time spent playing computer and video games. Practice is now allowed throughout the summer but when practice/conditioning is over, it’s back to the air conditioning for the remainder of the day.

Dehydration is largely preventable when proper strategies are employed to optimize hydration before, during and after exercise. The following guidelines are provided by the Sports Medicine Handbook written by the National Federation of State High School Associations.

Prior to exercise athletes should begin all sessions well hydrated.

1. Confirm adequate re-hydration following previous exercise sessions by pre-exercise body-weight monitoring. Assuming proper hydration, pre-exercise body weights should be consistent across exercise sessions.  

2. Drink 16 ounces of water two hours before exercise.  

3. Drink another 8-16 ounces of water 15 minutes before practice.

During exercise, fluid replacement should approximate loss of fluids through sweat and urine output, with the goal of minimizing dehydration to less than 2 percent loss of body weight.

1. Drink early and often. Do not let thirst guide fluid intake.  

2. Allow unrestricted fluid replacement.  

3. In general, drink 4-16 ounces of water every 15-20 minutes.  

4. Modify protocol as necessary for athletes with a high sweat rate, in sports where breaks or fluid access is limited, and during high intensity training.

Post-exercise hydration strategies should be aimed at correcting any fluid loss occurring during practice or competition.

1. Ideally, lost fluids should be replaced within two hours following competition or exercise.  

2. Re-hydration should consist of water to restore hydration status, CHO to replenish glycogen storage and electrolytes to speed re-hydration as appropriate.  

3. Drink 24 ounces of an appropriate sports drink or water, as indicated, for every pound of weight lost due to exercise.  

Weigh athletes before and after activity to monitor body water loss from the activity and to ensure adequate re-hydration has occurred prior to next session. If there is a significant decrease in body weight, athletes should not be allowed to participate especially in hot weather until they are re-hydrated back to previous weight.

I hope everyone involved in fall practices held in the heat will use these ideas and procedures to protect high school participants.

n The British Open always has at least one day of inclement weather. Sunday was no different. It is wonderful to see old guys (like Ernie Els) play like the true champions they are.  

n The Royals need to trade Yuniesky Betancourt and Rex Hudler for a dozen baseballs and a bat!

n My quote this week is from former NFL and college coach Frank Kush: “Being in peak physical condition is just as important as throwing and kicking the ball. In fact, it’s probably more important than some techniques. If you’re not in shape, you can’t respond physically or mentally.”