Football practice kicks off in triple-digit heat

AUSTIN (KXAN) — High school football is like a religion in Texas.

While school isn’t back in session quite yet, many high school football players are back for the first day of football practice. But as important the sport is to communities across our state, we don’t want to put the players’ health in jeopardy during the dog days of summer.

Before the rain this afternoon, temperatures hit the triple digits as Westlake and Lake Travis High Schools hit the field today for the first time.

Practicing in heat can cause dehydration or even heat stroke. Doctors say it’s important to stay hydrated while players say the heat is just part of the game.

“It’s kind of just there, we got used to it. It builds character out here. I don’t mind it,”  Westlake High School’s Breckyn Hager says:  I really don’t.”

Even if you get used to it,  Dr. Albert Gros, the Chief Medical Officer at St. David’s South Austin Medical Center, says the best thing to do is to start an hour or two before the activity and then every 30 minutes to an hour, have water intake during the activity. “That can be water or sports drink,” he explains.

All of the emphasis on safety means two-a-days have a new approach.

“It’s not like it used to be,” Hank Carter, Lake Travis High School Football Coach says, “You get a water break whenever you want one. We have a kid or several kid athletic trainers stationed at every station so the guys get all the water, all the Gatorade they need.”

Having to take constant breaks and other rules have some coaches concerned though. They say players may not be getting the practice they need before the first game.

It’s important to point out the University Interscholastic League has several requirements for athletes in the heat. For example, all pre-season football practices must begin with four-days of getting acclimated to the heat. It’s essentially a low-impact time period. During the four days,helmets are the only piece of protective equipment athletes can wear and no contact is allowed.

And you may not think of marching bands — but they’re often practicing out in the heat. UIL requires marching band directors take a safety training course on heat-related issues. But it does not have a rule that limits the number of hours a band can practice.

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