With the summer upon us we expect to see some sun over the next few months, and this brings different considerations when keeping children safe during football activities.
In warmer weather, we encourage all coaches to adapt their training sessions and encourage frequent drink breaks, even in games, to ensure all children stay safe and healthy during exercise. The best advice we can give is to use common sense, and if it’s warm and you are warm watching – allow for extra breaks for your players. In excessive heat, even consider cancelling sessions/games where necessary, to prevent risks completely.
Some top tips;
1. Drink before
Children shouldn’t be turning up to a training session/game/tournament feeling thirsty, particularly on a warm day, please ensure parents’ players are aware of this.
Thirst is a sign you need to drink but thirstiness doesn’t kick in until you’re already slightly dehydrated. To prevent this, make sure your parents are giving your players plenty of water to drink even before any football activities, so that they’re well hydrated for when they start exercising.
2. Don’t forget the sunscreen
Please remind all parents to apply sun cream to their child to protect them from sunburn before they participate in any of your activities.
3. Hydrate often
Ensure all players have a drink at all sessions/games/tournaments, especially so on a warm day. Water is best as it’s absorbed quickly by the body. Advise player to avoid sugary drinks as these can make them more dehydrated.
When children are playing with their friends they may be having too much fun to remember to drink so please take regular breaks, every 15-20 minutes is a good guideline. They should also drink afterwards to replace any fluids lost through sweat, where applicable.
4. Advise on rehydrating snacks
Most fruit and vegetables contain a lot of water and can help keep your players stay hydrated. Watermelon, cucumber, oranges, apples and grapes are all good snacks before, in between or after a session/game/tournament. Frozen fruit, ice cubes and homemade ice lollies are also a rehydrating treat.
5. Adapt your sessions
The intensity of activities that last 15 minutes or more should be reduced whenever high heat or humidity reach critical levels.
6. Wear light colours, where possible.
Light coloured, lightweight clothing is best for keeping your players cool. If possible, choose sweat-wicking fabrics, these are designed specifically for sport and help draw sweat away from the skin. If any players are ‘heavy sweaters’, advise they have a change of clothes ready so they have something dry and comfortable to wear afterwards.
6. If they don’t feel well, stop
Advise your players that if they feel dizzy, unwell or weak during a session/game/tournament to let you know, so you pull them out of activity and help them find shade, give them a drink and ensure they take a break from exercise.
7. Cool Down
When you have completed your session/game/tournament done make sure your players take time to cool down. Advise they walk around (don’t sit) to make sure they recirculate the blood throughout their bodies. If possible, advise they go inside to a cooler room to cool off, but not to sit down—keep moving. There is a lot of blood in their legs from the activity they have just done (blood pooling), if they don’t cool down properly and help the blood to all necessary parts of their body, they may get dizzy, nauseous, and in extreme cases, possibly pass out.