Coach's Corner: Sam Knopik 7/30

Sam Knopik

By Sam Knopik
Posted: August 6, 2010 - 11:54 PM

The Coach’s Corner is a place where several area coaches will give their views on the state of coaching at the high school level.

As we are sitting on the eve of the start of fall football camp all coaches and athletic directors are encouraged to review their procedures for extreme heat conditions.

Early August is likely to bring, or this year’s case, stay very hot, dangerously hot. Precautions need to be in place, and followed, in order to keep all the participants safe in these practice conditions.

The Missouri State High School Activities Association provides a framework for schools to follow regarding hot weather practices. MSHSAA feels heat index temperatures between 95 and 105 degrees as conditions requiring alterations to traditional practice or game plans. Suggestions include a possible cancellation of practice, a shorter practice, early or late evening practice, and moving practice to an indoor facility if possible. Heat index temperatures above 105 are considered significantly dangerous and activities outside should not occur.

Other procedures teams have used successfully include:

  • Training coaching staffs to be vigilant in observing heat related illness such as nausea, fatigue, confusion, vomiting and uncharacteristic behaviors.

  • Moving the water trough to a centrally located position on the practice field.

  • Place a sprinkler on the practice field where players can spend a few moments cooling down.

  • Eliminating the gear practice without helmets and shoulder pads.

  • Beginning practice as early in the morning as possible.

  • Keeping a weight loss chart in the locker room. Players losing more than 3% body weight should be instructed to gain back that weight before participating in a second practice.

  • Instead of bringing the team back to campus for an evening practice employ a longer morning session with more breaks followed by chalk-talk and film sessions in a cooler classroom environment.

  • Stock several buckets of ice water with training towels. Train your coaches, managers and players to cool each other off by placing the towels on the back of the neck as they rotate through practice drills.

  • Ending an extreme heat practice with a surprise truckload of watermelons does wonders for the morale of the team as well!

We have found that taking the time to install and implement a practice plan to keep the players hydrated and their body temperatures cool has increased our productivity in times of extreme heat. I hope your next few weeks of football are productive, fun, and above all safe.

Sam Knopik is the head football coach at Pembroke Hill High School.