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BAFA’s Sport Science and Medicine Committee have put together some guidance for training and competing in the heat. This advice is aimed at players but is also relevant for coaches, support staff and officials.

Exercising in heat can lead to health complications and impairment in performance if not appropriately managed.  Simple preventative steps can be put in place to reduce the risk of heat-related illness.

Hydration strategies
● Hydrate well prior to exercise – start increasing intake from at least 48 hours before practice or a game
● Prepare for exercise by taking an iced drink with you
● Consume fluids during activity every 15-20 minutes
● Re-hydrate post-training. Use electrolytes as needed
● Avoid alcohol consumption prior, during and post exercise

How should training and game days be structured?
● Practice should not last longer than 3 hours
● Coaches should encourage regular water breaks – at least every 30 minutes
● Avoid consecutive days of practice
● Reduce the requirement for helmet and pads
● Avoid the sun between 11am and 3pm where possible
● Encourage use of shade for rest periods
● Be more cautious during games and tournaments as players will expend more energy – look to regularly rotate your players to ensure regular rest periods and water breaks

What to wear?
● Do not wear excessive clothing e.g. reduce the number of layers and avoid wearing heavy materials
● Wear light-coloured clothing
● Cover yourself with sun cream prior to leaving the house, again before you step on the field and again regularly during the day
● Wear a cap when on the side-line.
● As a coach you should look to reduce the requirement for contact training in pads and a helmet. If you are a player participating in a contact game then remove your helmet when on the side-line.

Further considerations
● Stand in a shaded area during breaks
● Use a cool towel during the warm up or on a break – pop these around your neck
● Keep a water spray bottle in your kit bag – a light misting can help you cool down
● Do not be tempted to over exert yourself in extreme heat conditions
● If you feel unwell step out immediately and seek further medical assistance where needed
● Take a cool shower post training or game
● Regularly reapply sun cream and use after-sun after showering
● If you are already feeling unwell before training/playing a game, you are advised to avoid exercise in the heat completely
● Ask yourself whether you are at risk of heat related illness. Risk factors include:

● Aged 15 years or younger
● Aged 65 years or older
● Consumption of alcohol prior to exercise
● Medical conditions – respiratory, cardiovascular, blood disorders
● History of heat-related illness
● Lack of sleep
● Obesity
● Tendency to be over-motivated
● No previous heat acclimatisation
● Sunburn
● Poor cardiovascular fitness
● Skin conditions – psoriasis, eczema
● Specific medications
● Current dehydration
● Excessive clothing

Recognising signs of heat exhaustion (Source: NHS)
Signs of heat exhaustion include:

● A headache
● Dizziness and confusion
● Loss of appetite
● Nausea
● Excessive sweating and pale, clammy skin
● Cramps in arms, legs and stomach
● Fast breathing or pulse
● A temperature of 38C or above
● Extreme thirst
● Tiredness

If someone shows signs of heat exhaustion they should be removed from exercise and cooled down.

You should:

1. Move them to a cool place
2. Lay the person down and raise their feet
3. Get them to drink water or sports drinks
4. Remove excessive layers and cool their skin. For example using a spray bottle or cooling
down around the neck.
5. Remain with the individual until they feel better.
(Source: NHS)

Heatstroke can very serious if not managed quickly. You should call 999 if the individual:

● Continues to feel unwell 30 minutes after resting in a cool place or having drank plenty of fluids
● Does not sweat while feeling very hot
● Has a temperature of 40C or above
● Has fast breathing or shortness of breath
● Is confused
● Has a seizure
● Is not responsive
(Source: NHS)

For more information and guidance, please visit NHS UK’s Heatwave information page.