Can you hear the barking in the distance? That would be the dog days of summer. The dogs show up each July and with them the three H’s… humid, hot and hazy. With temperatures nearing 100 degrees, what is your game plan for your athlete?
You need to prepare your athlete for competition in the hot weather if you expect them to play at a high level.
It starts with proper hydration and its best to start drinking early. Drink water before, during and after practice or a game. Get your player a large jug and keep it full of fresh, cold water. They should never have to search or ask for water. It should be a part of his or her playing equipment.
Heat-related illness is common this time of year for young athletes who are not prepared to play under extreme heat conditions. Know the signs of heat cramps, heat exhaustion or even heat stroke.
Muscle cramps and soreness normally occur after a great deal of sweating when your body is depleted of water. When a player is feeling dizzy and has a headache and cramps they may be experiencing heat exhaustion. If your player has any of these signs, get them in shade with plenty of fluid. Seek professional help from a doctor if their conditions worsen.
Tournaments this time of year play during the hottest time of the day. Make sure your athlete is well rested and in a cool environment before and after competition. Be careful to avoid training during the hottest time of the day and opt for early morning or late evenings instead.
To prepare them for playing in the hottest time of the day, you can put them on a graduated conditioning program that will acclimate them to hotter weather. Do this 7 to 10 days in advance of extreme heat.
Wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothing. Keep the sun off your head by wearing a hat and wear plenty of sunscreen.
If you feel overstressed and unwell, then you should slow down and maybe stop activity.
The dog days of summer will be around until September, so plan ahead, take precaution and be careful when it comes to being active in the hot weather.