Environmental Guidelines for Player Safety

Environmental Guidelines for Player Safety

Environmental conditions can significantly impact player health and safety. Extreme temperatures, severe weather and the integrity of the playing field and its equipment all impact players’ ability to practice and compete safely. U.S. Soccer’s Recognize to Recover program gives players, parents, coaches and referees information and guidelines to make sure the desire to play does not cloud the decision-making process when it comes to evaluating environmental conditions to ensure the safety of those on the field.

HEAT & HYDRATION

Extreme heat can impact players' health and safe play. Proper hydration and knowing when you need to drink are critical, to help prevent many injuries and illnesses, from muscle cramps to heat stroke. Players should drink water before, during and after a game or practice, which means coaches should make sure there is adequate water available. U.S. Soccer’s Recognize to Recover program gives players, parents, coaches and referees information and guidelines to make sure the desire to play does not cloud the decision-making process when it comes to evaluating environmental conditions to ensure the safety of those on the field.

U.S. Soccer Heat Guidelines
Heat Guidelines Contributors: Korey Stringer Institute and Dr. George Chiampas

U.S. Soccer Cold Weather Guidelines
Cold Weather Guidelines Contributors: Athletico, Korey Stringer Institute and Dr. George Chiampas

 

HEAT GUIDELINES

Heat-related illnesses, such as heat stroke and heat exhaustion can be serious and potentially life-threatening conditions. U.S. Soccer’s RECOGNIZE TO RECOVER program prepared this guide for coaches, referees and players when training or playing in warmer climates, outlining recommendations for hydration breaks and participant safety during extreme temperature conditions. The information provided herein is not a substitute for medical or professional care, and you should not use the information in place of a visit, consultation or the advice of your physician or other healthcare provider. For specific questions and concerns, please consult your healthcare provider or physician.

1) RECOGNIZE

Thirst is a warning that your body is already in an early stage of dehydration. Drink when you are thirsty. Recognizing the signs of dehydration are important because the amount of water required will vary from player to player.

  • Dry, sticky mouth
  • Sleepiness or tiredness
  • Headache
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Rapid breathing
  • Fever
  • In the most serious cases, delirium or unconsciousness

2) RECOVER

  • Add hydration breaks
  • Shorten practice
  • Practice early or late in the day when temperatures are lower
  • Use less-strenuous training activities during practice

 

HEAT-RELATED ILLNESS

Heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion and exertional heat stroke (EHS), can be serious and potentially life-threatening conditions which can be brought on or intensified by physical activity. Recognizing the signs and symptoms as early as possible allows for treatment and rapid recovery with hydration and cooling down the individual.

•   Early signs and symptoms of heat illness include weakness or fatigue, headache, nausea and dizziness
•   Altered mental status, such as confusion, irritability, aggressive behavior, dizziness
•   Slurred speech
•   Hallucinations
•   Loss of balance, falling down
•   Throbbing headache
•   Body temperature above 104 degrees Fahrenheit
•   Complaining of chills, while skin may be warm to the touch

Preventing heat related illness is the best medicine. It may become important to adjust training, match play and hydration breaks when playing in warmer climates and during extreme temperature conditions.

•   Develop and implement a heat policy (heat acclimatization guidelines, activity modification guidelines based on environmental conditions and management of heat-related illness) as part of your emergency action plan (EAP)
•   Frequently monitor environmental conditions using Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) device or Heat Index and make practice modifications (e.g., increase in the number and duration of hydration breaks, shortening practice, postponing practice/competition until cooler parts of the day)
•   Follow heat acclimatization guidelines (below) during preseason practices and conditioning
•   Ensure appropriate hydration policies are in place with athletes having unlimited access to water during practice and competition, especially in warm climates.
•   Educate staff on the signs and symptoms of heat related illness and early management
•   Consider having a health care provider such as an athletic trainer onsite for all practices and competitions

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Arkansas United Soccer Club

Arkansas United Soccer Club formerly known as Little Rock Futbol Club has been a 501c3 nonprofit youth organization serving our community since 1980. Our principal mission is the promotion of youth soccer. We strive to instill a love for the game in each of our players and to provide an atmosphere where each player may participate and progress according to his or her interest and ability. We take great pride in developing our players as athletes, students and responsible young men and women. Our players form life-long friendships with their club mates, acquire leadership, teamwork and sportsmanship skills that ultimately prepare them for life beyond soccer.

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Arkansas United Soccer Club
Phone: 501-868-1212