May 23, 2022 • 4 min read
Summer is almost here, and it’s a great time for kids to get outside and participate in sports! Summer sports are a perfect chance to make new friends and gain more strength. One major concern in summer, however, is the heat. Children’s bodies are less efficient at cooling than adult bodies. Children are more vulnerable to dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. By knowing how to help your kids stay cool in the heat, you can prevent heat-related illness and keep your cool as the coach.
Plan ahead for warmer temperatures.
As a coach, keep your eye to the weather to know if temperatures are going to soar during your next game or practice. Before practice, scout out some shady areas to take water breaks. Be sure to tell your players to bring plenty of water and to dress appropriately for the heat. Feel free to change up the practice length, intensity and equipment use as the temperatures rise.
Keep lines of communication open.
High temperatures and high humidity can be particularly dangerous, but kids may not be aware of the signs of heat-related illness. Talk to your players about common symptoms such as headache, dizziness, or tiredness. Keep lines of communication open with your players so that they feel comfortable talking to you if they feel ill.
Hydration, hydration, hydration!
Encourage your athletes to drink water regularly and have it readily available — even before they ask for it. Pack plenty of water, so that the players can have a drink at every opportunity. Sports beverages with electrolytes can be helpful for hydration, just try to keep them to a minimum because of the large amounts of sugar. Steer clear of drinks with caffeine, which can have a dehydrating effect. Make the most of snack breaks by providing your players with fruit to give them energy and provide additional hydration.
You can have more frequent water breaks.
It should be easy for children to drink fluids during practice. Remind them to drink regularly. Fluid breaks should be scheduled for all practices and become more frequent as the heat and humidity levels rise. During a game, some refs may implement additional water breaks if temperatures are incredibly hot.
Have ice packs and spray bottles on site!
Pack a cooler full of ice and ice packs for athletes to place on their body. Keeping a spray bottle full of water for a quick spritz during breaks can also help kids keep cool in the sun. Wetting a hat with cold water before putting it on can also help them to cool down.
Cold towels keep you cool.
One of the most helpful hacks to stay cool during summer is to make the most of cooling towels. You can purchase microfiber cooling towels, or simply put some washcloths in a cooler full of ice to keep them nice and cold. During breaks, kids can apply these to their necks, foreheads, or pulse points for a quick cool-down.
Shade can be your friend.
One of the best ways to cool down in summer is to get out of the direct sun. Even on the hottest day, sitting in the shade can make a person feel like it is 10 to 15 degrees cooler. Fields may not always have a ton of shade, so consider bringing an umbrella or a blanket with you.
Encourage players to plan ahead.
To acclimate to heat, encourage players to spend a little more time outside without overexerting themselves. It’s also wise to hydrate your young athletes prior to a practice or game. Make sure each player drinks 4 to 10 ounces of water 15 minutes prior to practice or competition. Encourage players to hydrate after practice or a game to make the most of their hydration efforts and feel better.
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