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As football practice begins, more states use heat procedures

More states adopting football heat procedures

2:47 PM, Jul. 30, 2012 EDT

As temperatures were predicted to reach 104 degrees in Arkansas on Monday, the first official day of football practice in the state, the players at Har-Ber (Springdale) were nowhere near the practice field.

"This week is usually brutally hot anyway," Har-Ber football coach Chris Wood said. "You won't see a lot of teams in our area going out in the heat of the day."

In Arkansas, teams have to go five days of practice before they're allowed to go in full pads.

Since 1995, 51 football players have died from from heat stroke, including 40 high school players. Last summer, two players in Georgia died of heat-related causes within a 24-hour period.

Those deaths have led to sweeping changes across the country. In April, the National Federation of State High School Associations issued a heat acclimatization and heat illness prevention statement that suggested states begin with shorter, less-intense practices in the summer and minimize protective gear in the first few days as players become acclimated to the heat.

Last year, Texas' University Interscholastic League banned two-a-days. This year, several states have added or improved their heat acclimatization procedures.

In Georgia, which began practice last week, three-a-days have been outlawed, players must practice five days before being don pads and once pads are allowed, practices are limited to three hours. Teams are also prohibited from practicing when wet-bulb temperatures reach 92.1 degrees. The wet-bulb reading differs from the heat index because it measures evaporation rate as well as temperature and humidity.

South Carolina, which began practices last week, has placed limits on practice times, added rest periods and forced coaches to alternate between long practice days and short practice days.

As North Carolina high schools held the first day of practice Monday, players spend the first two days in helmets, shorts and pads but aren't allowed to tackle or block until Saturday.

The Korey Stringer Institute at the University of Connecticut also suggests that proper cooling methods, such as access to water, a cold-water immersion tub and ice towels are available before practices begin.

"We have a big tub with cold water, that we'll add four or five containers of ice to," Wood said. "It's something we want our players to use, especially the bigger linemen. There isn't a better way to cool off."



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