The National Athletic Trainers’ Association and several organizations developed heat illness guidelines and best practices for acclimatization and prevention in March. An inter-agency task force released a consensus statement.
Illinois is one of many states that have not officially adopted the new guidelines, but that doesn’t mean the state’s coaches and trainers aren’t aware of them. Only seven entire states—Arkansas, Arizona, Connecticut, Georgia, North Carolina, New Jersey and Texas—have signed on entirely.
Several county school systems in Maryland, on the other hand, have adopted the guidelines, or a set of guidelines modeled after them very closely, we learn from this article in the Annapolis Capital Gazette.
The Chicago Tribune had a chance to interview an athletic trainer from New Jersey and ask him about how athletes can become “acclimatized” to heat during preseason workouts. He told the Tribune that heat acclimatization starts like this:
During the first five days, athletes may not participate in more than one practice per day. From days six through 14, double-practice days must be followed by a single-practice day. On a double-practice day, the two practices should be separated by at least three continuous hours in a cool environment.
This helps athletes grow accustomed to the heat, because heat illness can be prevented if proper steps are taken.
“Unlike a torn ACL or a concussion, heatstroke is 100 percent preventable. And it’s not a 100-degree issue, either. It’s the combination of heat, humidity and high-intensity exercise,” the Tribune quoted David Csillan, a co-chair of the task force and an athletic trainer at Ewing High School in Ewing, N.J., as saying.
A Maryland law passed and was signed this spring, requiring school systems to develop heat acclimatization guidelines. “We certainly recognize the value of athletics in the education of children and absolutely want to do everything we can to keep children safe when they’re participating in athletics, whether those factors are related to heat or injury or any other issues,” school spokesman for Anne Arundel County Public Schools, Bob Mosier, told the Gazette.
The football and field hockey teams in Anne Arundel County are reportedly already following the guidelines despite non-adoption by the state at this point. And they’re changing a few things about practices, but not many.
“It’s going to cut down on the amount of practice time, but my coaching staff has gotten together and talked about it,” one high school football coach was quoted as saying. “We’re just going to have to be more efficient with the way we do things. As coaches, you learn to be adaptable.”