02 August 2008

Soccer Coaching Tips – Running a Training Session During the Summer Heat

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Today is the 2nd of August and in Georgia, it's hot. This time of year means it is equator hot, jungle hot, the kind of hot that takes your breath away.

This time of year also signals the start of fall (autumn) training camps for many youth clubs across the South and I imagine throughout the United States.

So with that, I'd like to share a few, shall we say, survival tips for training in the heat of summer.

1. I recommend before starting any training regime you check in with the family physician or pediatrician. A 13-year old American football player just died a few days ago during a training session as a result of an enlarged heart. Those poor kids have to wear all the padding and gear during this heat which is absolutely stupid, but still, perhaps a visit to the doctor would have prevented this boy's tragic and untimely passing.

2. Only train in the mornings.

3. Start drinking lots of water the day before. You are going to sweat buckets so stay hydrated. But don't wait until training starts or until you feel thirsty to start drinking water, you need to be prepared.

3. Bring at least a one-gallon large insulated water container with ice water. The little water bottles aren't going to cut it for the summer heat. You should be drinking two to four cups of water every hour.

4. This is a "nice to have" but a small cooler full of ice and a wash cloth is great. Placing the icy cold cloth on the back of the neck and the forehead is a great way to cool down.

5. Football is tough to play with hats and sunglasses, but you have to wear sunscreen which is at least SPF 15 or higher (the most effective products say “broad spectrum” or “UVA/UVB protection” on their labels).

6. Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.

7. Bring a change of socks. Your feet will be soaked with sweat and dew after about an hour, so a change of socks half way through training will save your feet and increase your comfort level.

8. Always watch for signs of heat related illness. Be on the look out for these descriptions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

Heat Stroke

Warning signs of heat stroke vary but may include the following:

* An extremely high body temperature (above 103°F, orally)
* Red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating)
* Rapid, strong pulse
* Throbbing headache
* Dizziness
* Nausea
* Confusion
* Unconsciousness

What to Do

If you see any of these signs, you may be dealing with a life-threatening emergency. Have someone call for immediate medical assistance while you begin cooling the victim. Do the following:

* Get the victim to a shady area.
* Cool the victim rapidly using whatever methods you can. For example, immerse the victim in a tub of cool water; place the person in a cool shower; spray the victim with cool water from a garden hose; sponge the person with cool water; or if the humidity is low, wrap the victim in a cool, wet sheet and fan him or her vigorously.
* Monitor body temperature, and continue cooling efforts until the body temperature drops to 101-102°F.
* If emergency medical personnel are delayed, call the hospital emergency room for further instructions.
* Do not give the victim fluids to drink.
* Get medical assistance as soon as possible.

Sometimes a victim's muscles will begin to twitch uncontrollably as a result of heat stroke. If this happens, keep the victim from injuring himself, but do not place any object in the mouth and do not give fluids. If there is vomiting, make sure the airway remains open by turning the victim on his or her side.

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heat-related illness that can develop after several days of exposure to high temperatures and inadequate or unbalanced replacement of fluids. It is the body's response to an excessive loss of the water and salt contained in sweat. Those most prone to heat exhaustion are elderly people, people with high blood pressure, and people working or exercising in a hot environment.

Warning signs of heat exhaustion include the following:

* Heavy sweating
* Paleness
* Muscle cramps
* Tiredness
* Weakness
* Dizziness
* Headache
* Nausea or vomiting
* Fainting

The skin may be cool and moist. The victim's pulse rate will be fast and weak, and breathing will be fast and shallow. If heat exhaustion is untreated, it may progress to heat stroke. Seek medical attention immediately if any of the following occurs:

* Symptoms are severe
* The victim has heart problems or high blood pressure

Otherwise, help the victim to cool off, and seek medical attention if symptoms worsen or last longer than 1 hour.

What to Do

Cooling measures that may be effective include the following:

* Cool, nonalcoholic beverages
* Rest
* Cool shower, bath, or sponge bath
* An air-conditioned environment
* Lightweight clothing

Heat Cramps

Heat cramps usually affect people who sweat a lot during strenuous activity. This sweating depletes the body's salt and moisture. The low salt level in the muscles may be the cause of heat cramps. Heat cramps may also be a symptom of heat exhaustion.

Heat cramps are muscle pains or spasms—usually in the abdomen, arms, or legs—that may occur in association with strenuous activity. If you have heart problems or are on a low-sodium diet, get medical attention for heat cramps.

What to Do

If medical attention is not necessary, take these steps:

* Stop all activity, and sit quietly in a cool place.
* Drink clear juice or a sports beverage.
* Do not return to strenuous activity for a few hours after the cramps subside, because further exertion may lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
* Seek medical attention for heat cramps if they do not subside in 1 hour.


Sunburn should be avoided because it damages the skin. Although the discomfort is usually minor and healing often occurs in about a week, a more severe sunburn may require medical attention.

Symptoms of sunburn are well known: the skin becomes red, painful, and abnormally warm after sun exposure.

What to Do

Consult a doctor if the sunburn affects an infant younger than 1 year of age or if these symptoms are present:

* Fever
* Fluid-filled blisters
* Severe pain

Also, remember these tips when treating sunburn:

* Avoid repeated sun exposure.
* Apply cold compresses or immerse the sunburned area in cool water.
* Apply moisturizing lotion to affected areas. Do not use salve, butter, or ointment.
* Do not break blisters.

Heat Rash

Heat rash is a skin irritation caused by excessive sweating during hot, humid weather. It can occur at any age but is most common in young children.

Heat rash looks like a red cluster of pimples or small blisters. It is more likely to occur on the neck and upper chest, in the groin, under the breasts, and in elbow creases.

What to Do

The best treatment for heat rash is to provide a cooler, less humid environment. Keep the affected area dry. Dusting powder may be used to increase comfort.

Treating heat rash is simple and usually does not require medical assistance. Other heat-related problems can be much more severe.

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