Dealing With Sweltering Heat in Youth Football
If your weather is anything like ours, it is 100 degrees and 83% humidity right now, making it miserable for anyone trying to practice. I won’t bore you with all the regular advice on keeping your kids hydrated and keeping your eyes open for heat stress. Most of us are well versed on the subject, so what are some other tips for beating the heat?
Consider moving practice to an area of the field or another field that is in the shade. Several years when my teams were faced with an unusual blast of heat, we moved to practicing behind the outfield fences of a local baseball field, which was 100% in the shade. Another year we used the outfield of a local church softball field that was surrounded by tall pines, which provided good shade if we stayed in the corners of the field. The shade was more than 10 degrees cooler than when we were in the sun. While 10 degrees may not sound like much, there may be a psychological factor at play as well. The kids just seem so much fresher when they are practicing in the shade.
If you can’t make it to shade to practice, at least do it during breaks. We practice at a field that has a large shelter that is covered that doubles as our water break meeting area. If we didn’t have that, there are a few trees that provide enough shade for an entire team to get under.
During unusually fierce heat blasts, you may even try practicing indoors. On several occasions the local High School allowed us to use their gym to practice. A local church also volunteered their gym space for the same purpose. Always remember to leave those places cleaner than when you found them and leave a nice thank you note for whoever made the gym use possible.
Another nice way to cool off at the end of a broiling hot practice is to have a water balloon fight at the end of practice. Have the kids and parents bring a stash of water balloons in coolers, choose up sides and have a good old fashioned water balloon war to cool the kids down and build enthusiasm for the next practice.
While all of our kids will need to acclimate themselves to the heat, we can ease them into it a bit and give them some relief when unusually hot temps are causing havoc.
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