Jan 29, 2009
New Guidelines for Heat-Acclimatization

Prompted by the death of a Kentucky high school football player last summer, the Inter-Association Task Force for Preseason Secondary School Athletics announced safety guidelines for heat-acclimatization during pre-season training sessions.

The task force, headed by Dr. Douglas Casa of the University of Connecticut and comprised of more than 20 athletic trainers and sports medicine professionals from more than a dozen national academies, associations, and research institutes, recommended athletic trainers work with coaches and athletic directors to develop pre-season practice programs that allow the body to gradually adjust to workouts in hot weather over a two-week period in an effort to minimize the risk of exertional heat illness.

The announcement comes on the heels of the Tennessee Secondary School Athletics Association’s passage of a mandatory heat index policy and follows up on the NATA’s March 19 press release, which addressed the football player’s death as it stated support for proposed legislation in Kentucky to increase sports safety measures for high school athletes.

In its new statement, the task force outlined seven major recommendations, including:

    • No more than one practice per day, with no more equipment than a helmet for the first two sessions during the first five days of practice.
    • Total practice time should not exceed three hours for one-practice days and no more than five hours total for two-practice days.
    • One-hour maximum walk-throughs should be permitted up to the fifth day of practice.
    • On days six through 14, each two-practice day should be followed with a one-practice day.

Complete details of the task force’s recommendations and its consensus statement may be found in the June 2009 issue of the Journal of Athletic Training, or by visiting: www.nata.org/HeatAcclimatization/index.htm.

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