National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA) Offeres Heat Illness Prevention Tips for Youth Football Players
Organization Suggests Additional Summer Health & Safety Tips for Active People of All Ages
DALLAS, July 12 – For thousands of six to 13 year-olds in youth football leagues around the country, mid-July means the beginning of pre-season practice. To educate parents, coaches and the players themselves on how to prevent heat-related illnesses during the sweltering summer months, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) and the Gatorade Sports Science Institute (GSSI), have prepared “Guidelines on Heat Safety in Football.” NATA and GSSI recommend that the leagues:
- Arrange proper medical coverage at all practices and games
- Acclimate the young athletes to the heat over a two-week period
- Allow proper fluid replacement to maintain hydration
- Weigh in athletes before and after practices to monitor sweat loss and dehydration
- Arrange practice and rest in shaded areas and during cooler times of the day
- Provide proper rest periods during and in-between practice sessions
- Minimize the amount of equipment and clothing worn by players in hot and humid conditions, particularly during the acclimation period
The NATA’s Age Specific Task Force recommends that all young players be permitted to remove their helmets during rest breaks during both practices and games, as well as in-between periods and at halftime. With the football helmet on at all times in hot and humid weather, the body core temperature can increase to a greater extent and may play a role in the development of an exertional heat illness. Combining proper hydration, rest and the removal of the helmet for a period of time assists in the reduction of core body temperature and reduces the risk of developing a heat illness. To view the entire statement, please visit http://www.nata.org/publicinformation/files/youth_football.pdf. NATA, a non-profit organization that represents 30,000 members of the athletic training profession, periodically issues position and consensus statements on sports and health-related issues. Timely, summer-related statements include:
- “Fluid Replacement for Athletes” Position Statement – http://www.nata.org/publicinformation/files/fluidreplacement.pdf -- which presents recommendations on how to optimize fluid replacement practices of athletes.
- “Inter-Association Task Force on Exertional Heat Illnesses” Consensus Statement -- http://www.nata.org/publicinformation/files/heatillnessconsensusstatemen... -- which offers guidelines on how to increase safety and performance for individuals engaged in physical activities, especially in warm and hot environments. A parent and coaches guide based on the consensus statement can be found at: http://www.nata.org/publicinformation/files/parentandcoachesguide.pdf
- “Lighting Safety for Athletics and Recreation” Position Statement -- http://www.nata.org/publicinformation/files/lightning.pdf -- which discusses the dangers of lightning; provides lightning-safety guidelines; defines safe structures and locations; and advocates pre-hospital care for lightning-strike victims.
About the NATA: Certified athletic trainers (ATCs) are unique health care providers who specialize in the prevention, assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and illnesses that occur to athletes and the physically active. The National Athletic Trainers' Association represents and supports 30,000 members of the athletic training profession through education and research. www.nata.org. NATA, 2952 Stemmons Freeway, Ste. 200, Dallas, TX 75247, 214.637.6282; 214.637.2206 (fax).