NORTH TEXAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – With football practice up and running at high school fields across Texas, sidelines are packed with water bottles and cooling stations.
Dehydration and overheating are top concerns when young players hit the turf during August heat.
At the Pearce Mustangs practice field in Richardson, a dozen athletic training assistants weave in and out of players, passing out water and keeping an eye out for fatigue and exhaustion.
“I’d say very top priority. The coaches and trainers have them drinking water constantly. Kind of alternating that with some Gatorade for the electrolytes,” said Ron Svetgoff, whose son, Reese, is a senior receiver on the varsity team.
“It’s very important. We talk to [our son]. The trainers talk to them. During the day you need to stay hydrated long before you get out here. Hydrated yesterday before you came out today,” said Dallas Benton, whose son Cody is a sophomore player.
Head Athletics Trainer Kevin Pitts continuously scans the field, too.
“Watching for fatigue, dehydrations symptoms, headache and stumbling around,” said Pitts.
The first week of practice can be a challenge, as players acclimate to working out in the heat.
The University Interscholastic League (UIL) has rules in place that limit the hours and number of back-to-back practices that can be held at the beginning of the season.
Pearce has cooling stations, ice, and fans ready just in case players get overheated. Pitts says it is not uncommon for a player to lose seven pounds in water weight in one afternoon.
“The recommendation is to drink 16 to 20 ounces of water per pound that you lose, and do it over a period of time,” said Pitts.
The pace at which players rehydrate is important. This week a high school football player in Georgia died from swelling on the brain after practice. He had apparently drank four gallons of water and Gatorade.
The coaches and parents at Pearce heard about the news. Head athletics trainer Pitts knows the importance of educating the team on the right way to stay hydrated.
“Don’t just go home and slug a gallon of Gatorade, because that’s not going to be healthy,” he told the kids. “Drink that gallon of Gatorade, but over a period of time.”
As the Mustang players get used to working out in the heat, practices will get tougher. But parents put their trust in the team managers.
“The trainers are so good. They’ve been here a long time,” said Svetgoff. “Everybody respects the trainers in high school — maybe even more so than the head coach.”
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