Football practices opened today for high schools across the state just as warm and humid conditions hit their summer peak. Todd Tharp, assistant executive director of the Iowa High School Athletic Association , says they work with schools to be prepared for the warm weather.
Tharp says they’ve been out at rules meetings, and the recent coaches clinic to talk about the issue. Players can’t wear full pads in the first three days, and Tharp says they advise coaches to let the players take off their helmets to get some air when they’re doing things like stretching and the helmets aren’t needed.
Tharp says coaches should try to plan practices to deal with the heat. He says they need to look at the weather forecast and take breaks when needed during the practice to keep the kids hydrated, and then let them get re-hydrated after practice. Tharp says they ask the schools to keep close tabs on whether the athletes as getting enough water.
Every school is sent a weight chart and the schools are encouraged to weigh the players before and after practice. He says they also send out a urine chart that helps them determine if a play is hydrated. Warm weather with lots of humidity is expected in Iowa this time of year — but Tharp says they have set limits. He says they’ve set out hydrometers and charts to all the schools so they can measure the heat and humidity.
Tharp says it’s the state policy to stop games and practices if the relative humidity gets above 130 to protect the athletes. Tharp says the players also need to communicate with the coaches. He says the players have to tell the coaches if they’re going through drills and not sweating or feel chills, signs of heat stroke, so they can get into the shade and avoid a serious problem. A few teams will have games on August 24th, while the majority of teams begin their season the following week.