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Georgia high school football teams try to beat the heat

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Rain and cool breezes broke up the humidity during Thurs­day’s early-morning football practice at Lakeside High School.

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Lakeside High School football players take a water break during Thursday's practice. Georgia High School Association policy dictates how many breaks players get per hour of activity.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Lakeside High School football players take a water break during Thursday's practice. Georgia High School Association policy dictates how many breaks players get per hour of activity.

“This is great weather,” safety Rashad Roundtree said. “This feels like football.”

Thursday marked the first day that Georgia public high school teams were allowed to practice in pads. South Carolina public schools start practice Friday in helmets only.

When Lakeside began its practice at 8 a.m., coach Jarrett Troxler and his staff had taken precautions to prevent heat-related illnesses. On one corner of the field, the Panthers had a watering station. Nearby were two immersion tubs filled with water and a cooler loaded with ice.

Before every practice, Trox­ler records a Wet Bulb Globe Temperature index reading. Last year, the Georgia High School Association adopted a heat policy that included the index readouts, which measure heat by gauging temperature, humidity, air movement and radiant heat. For any reading of 82 and under, coaches have to provide three breaks an hour. If a reading hits 92.1, teams are not allowed to practice outside. Anything in between calls for different lengths of breaks and practices.

Troxler said he likes the new heat policy because it levels the playing field across the state. Before the GHSA instituted a heat policy last year, counties had different policies.

“I love how the Georgia High School Association adopted this very safe measure,” Troxler said. “It’s across the board. We all go by this.”

The heat policy isn’t limited to football. Every coach of an outdoor sport at Lakeside has a Wet Bulb monitor and must record the reading before every practice. Troxler, who also serves as the school’s athletic director, said he has to think about the safety of cross country runners and softball players at this time of year, too.

For his football team, Troxler allows players to get water any time they’d like.

“Never tell a kid ‘no’ if he wants water,” Troxler said. “I remember when I played if you asked for water you got ripped. Those days are gone.

“I’m never going to put winning a ballgame over a kid’s safety.”

HEAT, REST GUIDELINES BASED ON DEVICE’S READING

The Georgia High School Association uses the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature index to gauge temperature, humidity, air movement and radiant heat. What the readings mean for coaches:

UNDER 82: At least three, three-minute rest breaks are required each hour.

82-86.9: Discretion is advised for intense or prolonged exercise; at-risk players must be watched carefully. At least three, four-minute rest breaks are required each hour.

87-89.9: Maximum practice time is two hours. Football players are restricted to helmet, shoulder pads and shorts during practice, and all protective equipment must be removed during conditioning activities. If the index rises to this level during practice, players may continue to work out wearing football pants without changing to shorts. Four, four-minute rest breaks are required each hour.

90-92: Maximum practice time is one hour. Football players may not wear protective equipment during practice, and there may be no conditioning activities. Twenty minutes of rest breaks must be distributed throughout the hour of practice.

OVER 92.1: Outdoor workouts are prohibited. Practice must be delayed until a cooler index level is reached.


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