How an Athletic Trainer Survives Two-a-Day Football Practices – Tips for New Athletic Trainers When They Start with Long Practice Days in the Summer
Two-a-day practices can be brutal. Long days in the heat can take their toll, not just on the players but on athletic trainers as well. In this post we’ll look at how an athletic trainer can survive two-a-day football practices.
As an athletic trainer, you’ll spend a lot of time on the field and on the sidelines and the last thing you need is to get sunburnt. A good sunscreen (preferably SPF 50+), sunglasses, a hat, and a lightweight long-sleeve cotton shirt go a long way to keeping you protected from the heat. It’s also beneficial to wear a decent pair of shoes. Sandals and flip-flops may be cool and comfortable in the heat but they leave your feet exposed to sunburn and insect bites and are hard to run in if you need to get to a player quickly.
Players aren’t the only ones who need to keep up their fluids and replace electrolytes – standing in the sun causes you to sweat quite a lot. Staying hydrated also helps keep your mind and decision making clear, which is essential if there is an emergency. Water is the obvious choice for rehydration but you can also choose coconut water, sports drinks, cool-aid and popsicles.
Get some rest
Standing in the heat raises your core temperature and can be very tiring. Once the first practice is over and you’ve completed any post training clean up, be sure to find somewhere cool to rest. Remove some of your clothing and shoes, spritz your face with water, rehydrate, have something to eat, and take a seat. It’s just as important for an athletic trainer to rest and refuel between practices as it for players. After all, you can’t help your players if you’re feeling the effects of the heat.
Don’t forget to eat (and drink)
Long days in the heat are tiring for everyone and the best way to stay alert and last the day is to refuel. Regular snacks that provide energy, electrolytes and fluid are essential during two-a-day practices. Foods such as peaches, carrots, apples, melons, pineapple, grapes, and oranges all have a high water content so they not only provide energy but help keep you hydrated as well.
Take care of your players
Keeping yourself safe is important but you also need to care for your players. Heat stroke is a very real possibility during summer practice so its important to familiarize yourself with the signs and symptoms. Noticing and treating heat stroke early can make a huge difference to your player. Also, many areas have a policy in place to protect players from heat stroke – once the humidity reaches a certain level, athletic trainers are required to instruct coaches to stop practice and take the players off the field.
Before starting the long days of summer practice, make sure you know the requirements in your area for the safety of your players. Keep hydrated, remember to eat, keep cool and you’ll survive two-a-day practices in the heat just as well as your players.