The heat is really on as two-a-days approach

While sprinting from the car to the office or the car to the house in an air-conditioned induced fervor, trying in vain to avoid these triple-digit days, it's hard not to start thinking about the impending two-a-days which will be upon us before we know it.

While the heat during football practice has certainly been an issue since players wore leather helmets, with the record temperatures being registered almost daily, it will move to the forefront.

The heat is really on (no pun intended) coaches, especially now since a Dallas-based national trainers group said that it's time for high school coaches to put and end to the football ritual of two-a-days.

Since 1995, at least 39 football players at all levels have died from heat-related causes.

In Texas, schools must take a minimum one-hour break between practices during twoa days.

The trainers' proposal suggests a three-hour rest period between practices and suggests the second practice be relegated to a light walkthrough without helmet and pads.

"Texas almost already fulfills what they have recommended," said Rockdale head coach Jeff Miller. "So we're already ahead. The UIL has set down guidelines for summer practices."

At the athletic trainers' convention in San Antonio, a Georgia-based company revealed a heat sensor that can be placed inside a football helmet to monitor a player's body temperature.

It warns coaches and athletic trainers when a player is entering the danger zone of being overheated.

Despite safety concerns, Lone Star football coaches weren't exactly overly enthusiastic with the recommendations in the trainers' report.

Most expressed that the proper way to combat the heat is just use common sense.

On hot days, you go inside.

The trainers had some stern warnings for football coaches.

Mike Carroll, athletic trainer at Stephenville who helped author the report, says coaches may feel like they are not getting enough out of their players or preparing for the season adequately enough if they cut back on practice time.

"The mind set of a lot of coaches will be that if they follow these, they won't be practicing as much as some of the teams they play against and therefore, they'll be at a competitive disadvantage.

"And that is unfortunate."

They termed summer practices as "too dangerous, even reckless".

"We didn't do this for the coaches or parents, we did it for the student athletes," Carroll said.

Most coaches feel exposure to the heat is a crucial part of getting kids in playing shape both physically and mentally, which in turn, is the concept for two-a-days in the first place.

Dallas ISD teams are not allowed to practice between noon and 6 p.m. and are required to take a mandatory water break every 20 minutes.

Like a majority of the schools in Texas, Rockdale is usually through practicing around noon.

The Tigers practice from 7 to 9 a.m., then again from 10 to 12:30. A lot of schools begin their days at 6 a.m.

Miller has indicated that his team may hit the field even earlier this year.

"If the weather stays like this—and I don't see any reason that it won't—we may get started at 6 a.m."

"One thing I am going to do, is send my player's letter out a little earlier this year and tell them to get outside and get acclimated to the heat. If they stay inside, it's going to kick their butts."

"We will continue to give them all the water they want at anytime. We're not old school, we never deny a drink."

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2009-07-02 digital edition

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