There isn’t much “fall” in fall sports in Florida. As fall sports pick up, so does the heat. Temperatures are reaching highs of 103°F and lows of 75°F, which often leads to dehydration, fatigue and illness among athletes, affecting their performance and recovery.
Maclay’s Athletic Director Harold Hilliard and Athletic Trainer Cassandra Bryant work closely to monitor the heat index – a measure of how hot it really feels when factoring in the relative humidity at a given location. The heat index, as well as the temperature, is the highest between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. sitting at around 94°F, depending on the day. Ironically, this is when most teams have practice.
When temperatures reach to this extreme, athletes are prone to heat exhaustion. To be proactive on this issue, they are required to complete a heat exhaustion course to educate them on prevention techniques, signs and how to act on heat exhaustion. Moreover, the athletic trainer advises athletes on how to stay healthy throughout the extreme heat.
“I advise athletes to ensure they are consuming and replacing adequate amounts of water, sodium, electrolytes and carbohydrates and encourage a well-balanced diet every day,” Bryant said. “I also encourage hydrating before, during and after any physical activity.”
Following the trainer’s advice, cross country runners also emphasize the importance of hydration. Maclay’s cross country team is up and running at 5:45 a.m. every Tuesday to beat the heat. Early morning practices minimize being affected by the byproduct of the extreme heat, allowing them to have a more productive practice.
“The heat often does become too much,” senior Olivia Bishop said. “When we train and do speed workouts at 3:30 in the heat, it affects performance and sometimes causes dizziness.”
Much like the cross country team, Maclay’s football team has daily practices from 3:20 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.; during the peak heat. Some days, however, the heat becomes excessive, causing the team to push back practice to the evening.
“If there is ever a time where I am not drinking enough water throughout practice, then I usually feel dehydrated afterwards,” junior Ryder Marks said. “I also feel exhausted if I don’t eat enough prior to practice.”
The effects of heat on sports players are not to be taken lightly. High temperatures can severely affect their performance and overall health. It’s imperative that they maintain proper hydration, take regular breaks and listen to their bodies. Implementing these measures can help them combat the heat and continue to perform at their best.