Home » Preseason Heat-Acclimatization Guidelines for Secondary School Athletics (Handout)

Preseason Heat-Acclimatization Guidelines for Secondary School Athletics (Handout)



Since 1985, exertional heat stroke (EHS) has resulted in the death of 38 high school athletes, just in the sport of football. In each of the last two years, 5 high school athletes have died from EHS. Unfortunately, the incidence of death from EHS - which is one of the most preventable sports injuries - is on the rise, with approximately 30 athletes projected to die from EHS over the next 5 years, irrespective of level of sport.



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  1. During the first five days of the heat acclimatization process, no more than one practice per day.
  2. If a practice is interrupted by heat restrictions the practice should recommence once conditions are deemed safe, but total practice time should not exceed three hours per day.
  3. A one-hour maximum walk-through is permitted during the first five days of the heat-acclimatization period, with a three-hour recovery period between the practice and walk-through (or vice versa).
  4. Helmets only during the first two days (no shoulder pads). Goalies, as in the case of field hockey and related sports, should not wear full protective gear or perform activities that would require protective equipment.
  5. During days three through five, only helmets and shoulder pads should be worn.
  6. Beginning on day six, all protective equipment may be worn and full contact drills may begin.
  7. Beginning no earlier than the sixth day and continuing through the 14th day, double-practice days must be followed by a single-practice day.
  8. On a double-practice day, neither practice's duration should exceed three hours total, and total practice time should be limited to a maximum of five total hours.
    • Warm-up, stretching, cool-down, walkthrough, conditioning and weight-room activities are included as part of the practice time.
    • The two practices should be separated by a break of at least three continuous hours in a cool environment.
  9. Because the risk of exertional heat illnesses during the pre-season heat-acclimatization period is high, the consensus statement strongly recommends that an athletic trainer be on site before, during, and after all practices.

Who already uses these guidelines?

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Source: Korey Stringer Institute, NCAA

Posted June 26, 2012