We all recognize that football and cheer can be more demanding than all other sports our kids play. While most focus is the important issues around concussions which we address during instruction, the biggest issue is related to HEAT; and the challenges begin at home before practice starts. This sport that we all love begins during the three hottest months of the year. You add in the fact that we are in the Southeast and that can compound the situation.
There are three essential areas for you to focus on with your players and cheerleaders that start at home and before practice or camp begins:
2. Heat Acclimation
It is very common as adults to not appreciate the amount of “good” fluids that our children need on a regular school day to stay hydrated much less days in which they will be very physically active in the Heat and Humidity of the Summer months. Following the recommended steps below is incredibly important and the best way to help prepare your children.
A few important facts that will help you better hydrate your child for Sports:
1. Depending upon the age and size of your child, they require 48 – 64 oz. per day without physical activity to remain hydrated. They require more when they are active. It needs to be spread out evenly during the day; thus, put a plan in place to start making certain that they are reaching the minimum. As we get closer to Camp next week being adding up to at least another 12 oz. So, targeting 60 – 72 oz. They will not likely drink this much on their own; so, it will require to manage the intake.
2. It takes upwards of two days to resolve de-hydration. That means that in order to be hydrated before practices begin, your players and cheerleaders need to ramping up their hydration several days in advance of practice beginning.
3. During practices, your players can easily lose 24 – 36 oz. of fluid. It is important that they have enough WATER with them during practice to compensate for that loss. If properly hydrated, they should not be losing enough electrolytes during practice that Sports drinks are necessary. So, save yourself money, and have them stick to WATER at practice. Purchasing an inexpensive big water jug is the best way to go.
4. There are two simple ways to help manage whether or not your children are getting too dehydrated. First, is weighing them before and after practice. If they weigh less, then they need to replenish that water weight lost before bedtime. The second if you are concerned that they are not getting rehydrated is to determine their urine color. When properly hydrated, the color should be almost clear. The darker the color the more hydration that is required.
When we were all kids, we generally played outside from Sun up to Sun down in the Summer. While most of our kids are active and evenly play outside, it is different these days. As a result, their bodies are not as acclimated to the Heat as ours were at their ages; thus, the tend to not be able to regulate their core body temperature as easily. This coupled with poor hydration leads to getting overheated, heat exhaustion or worse. We do not want to see that for any of the kids.
Let’s face it, many of the kids have not done anything as demanding as football and cheer since last season. So, they need begin transitioning in as soon as possible.
It is important that they start training their body for the Heat; so, that it will acclimate easier over the next couple of weeks. We ask that you get them outside during the hours in which they will be practicing 6:00 – 8:00 PM participating in some type of activity. While as much as everyone loves the swimming pool, that is not the same. They need to be on their feet moving around. It does not have to be for the entire two hour period, but a sufficient amount of time that their body will adjust.
Most children are not as physically fit as they need to be. Returning to the demands of these types of activities can take a toll on them when their prime activity during the Summer has been playing Mind Craft, X-Box, PlayStation and Wii for the better part of the Summer. The great thing about youth is that the body rebounds more quickly than it does for us these days. So while they may not get topflight form before practices begin, they can better position themselves between now and then.
A great way for them to be active during the evenings is implementing conditioning activities. Join, them as it can be a good family activity and most of us could use a little conditioning of our own.
A few good places to start:
1. Jog for several minutes to warm up the muscles
2. Stretch out the legs and then upper body muscle groups
3. Intervals of High Knees, Sprints and Pushups will help work all of the muscle groups while promoting cardio buildup
4. Make it fun. Create obstacle courses and time each other. Play touch football in yard or run pass routes. If basketball or soccer are an options, that is great, too. Point is it does not matter specifically what the major activity is but that there is one.
Here is a link to a great article that was just released on youth football player safety - some interesting findings. Study findings include:
- Nearly 90 percent of youth players did not sustain an injury that resulted in missing a game or practice
- Of the 22.4 percent of players who reported an injury, 70 percent returned to play the same day
- Of the 11.9 percent of players who missed a game or practice because of injury, 60 percent returned to play within seven days
- Bruises were the most common injuries (34 percent), followed by ligament sprains (16 percent)
- 4.3 percent of players in the study sustained a concussion
- Players were more likely to sustain an injury during games than in practices
- No catastrophic head, neck or heat-related injuries were reported among the more than 4,000 players during the study’s two-year span
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