The National Federation of State High School Associations yesterday released a free online course for coaches about student-athlete heat acclimatization and heat illness.
Exertional heat stroke is the leading cause of preventable death in high school athletics, according to the NFHS.
“Many times, deaths from heat strokes are preventable, and we believe this course can be just the tool that players, coaches, and parents need to guard against serious illness or death,” said Tim Flannery, the NFHS director of coach education, in a statement.
By implementing an acclimatization phase (typically somewhere between 10 to 14 days), coaches can allow student-athletes’ bodies to become accustomed to physical exertion in the heat.
Last summer, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued heat guidelines for youth-athletes that called for a 14-day acclimatization period, with the intensity and duration of physical activity increasing throughout the two weeks. The AAP also recommends that schools provide ample access to water in hot conditions for student-athletes, saying teenagers may need up to five or six cups of water per hour.
Just last week, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association released a position statement aimed at reducing collegiate athlete deaths in conditioning sessions, recommending a similar acclimatization period. The NATA statement notes that of the 21 NCAA football players who have died in conditioning sessions since 2000, 11 of those occurred on the first or second day of workouts.
The NFHS has been proactive in recent years with free online youth-athlete safety courses, having produced a similar course about sports concussions back in 2010. As of this April, 400,000 coaches had participated in the concussion course, according to an NFHS press release.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.