The risk of heat related illness from vigorous sports activity increases with the temperature. The body generates heat which cannot be dissipated readily when the ambient temperature exceeds 85 degrees F, depending upon the humidity. Hot weather is considered at any point where the Heat Index reaches or exceeds 90. Coaches should follow the following procedures based on conditions:
- Heat Index up to 89°: Normal Play. Regular hydration patterns
- Heat index of 90°- 95°: Mandatory water breaks every 25 minutes.
- Heat index of 96°-102°: Mandatory water breaks every 15 minutes.
- Heat index over 103° (at start of training): All outside activity cancelled
- Encourage players to drink plenty of water before, during, and after practice. Water makes up to 65 percent of a youth player's body weight, and losing even a small amount of water can cause severe consequences in the body's systems. It doesn't have to be hot and humid for players to become dehydrated, nor is thirst an accurate indicator. Usually by the time players are aware of their thirst they are long overdue for a drink.
- Acclimatize players to exercising in high heat and humidity. Players can adjust to high heat and humidity in 7-10 days. During the period, hold practices at low to moderate levels of activity and give the players fluid breaks every 20 minutes
- Identify and monitor players who are prone to heat illness. These include players who are overweight, muscular, out of shape, and who work very hard. Those that have experienced previous heat illness are more prone to getting heat illness as well. Keep an eye on these children and give them drink breaks every 15 minutes. For very young players, such as the U6 group, give even more breaks.
- Make sure players replace fluids lost through sweat. Encourage players to drink 2-3 hours before practices or games and every 20 minutes during and after practice. Fluids such as water and sports drinks are preferable during games and practices. For younger athletes, it's better to use water instead of sports drinks.
- Replenish electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium, which are lost through sweat. The best way to replace these nutrients in addition to others such as carbohydrate and protein is by eating a balanced diet.