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Greater South Bend Area Pop Warner Association



Hydration, Conditioning & Drills

  • According to the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA), Research shows that relying on thirst may cause athletes to underestimate fluid needs and replace on average only about 50% of the fluid lost in sweat. Therefore, the NATA recommends athletes drink on a schedule based on their individual sweat rate, regardless of thirst, to ensure that they are replacing sweat losses.


  • NATA recently convened an Inter-Association Task Force comprised of 18 sports medicine groups and injury prevention and health professional organizations to release an Exertional Heat Illnesses Consensus Statement. The Consensus Statement, which applies to activity at all levels of intensity, states:


  • THIRST IS NOT ENOUGH: There is scientific research to support the idea that thirst is not an optimal way to determine when and how much an athlete should drink. By the time an athlete is thirsty, they are already somewhat dehydrated and in most cases will not drink enough to fully replace the fluids lost in sweat.
  •  TO BE SAFE, KNOW YOUR SWEAT RATE: Rather than relying on thirst or simply drinking as much as you can tolerate (which can also be dangerous), knowing how much you sweat is the best way to determine hydration needs. To figure out how much you sweat, weigh yourself before and after exercise. The weight you lost in ounces represents fluid and that amount is how much should be consumed (in total) before, during and after exercise to adequately replace sweat and keep the body balanced.
  • REPLACE FLUIDS & ELECTROLYTES LOST: Optimal hydration is the replacement of fluids and electrolytes based on individual needs. Drinking a sports drink helps replace the key electrolytes lost in sweat.

South Bend Bulldogs

10 Ways to Help Athletes Stay Safe in Intense Heat


While it can take 10-14 days for an athlete’s body to adapt to the heat, acclimation should start two weeks before team practices begin. An athlete should start with 15-20 minutes of continuous exercise outside in the heat, and add 5-10 minutes each day


Hydration helps reduce an athlete’s risk of heat illness and can help the athlete maintain a high level of performance. Proactive steps athletes can take to avoid dehydration include:

  • Weigh in and out before and after activity
  • Drink enough fluid to minimize weight loss – for each pound (16 oz.) that is
    lost, he or she may need to consume 20 ounces after athletic activity to fully rehydrate.
  • Check urine. If it’s like pale lemonade, that’s a sign of good hydration.

Athletes should drink enough fluid to prevent dehydration without over-drinking. Flavored, cold, lightly salted sports drinks like Gatorade are important because sodium helps maintain the physiological desire to drink and helps retain the fluid consumed.


Encourage athletes to buddy up with a teammate and watch out for each other when it’s hot and humid. They should know the
signs and symptoms of heat illness which can include:

  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Weakness
  • Fainting
  • Poor concentration
  • Personality change
  • Flushed skin
  • Light headedness
  • Loss of muscle coordination
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting

If experiencing heat illness, an athlete should take steps to cool the body, including lying in a cool place with legs elevated, applying cool, wet towels to the body and drinking cool fluids.


An important step in avoiding heat illness is adjusting practice or gamelength and intensity to the environmental conditions. If possible, athletes should avoid strenuous and high intensity activities during the warmest time of day (10 am – 4 pm).


Keeping cool in hot weather means being mindful of appropriate clothing and equipment that can help evaporate heat from the body:

  • Wear light-colored clothing
  • Wear t-shirts and shorts, not pads
  • Remove helmets when not active
  • Avoid wearing excess clothing
  • Change sweat–soaked clothing frequently

Rest and recovery are an essential part of avoiding heat illness. Athletes should work in times for breaks when active throughout the day, attempt to get six to eight hours of sleep a night and sleep in a cool environment, if possible.


Athletes need to think about fueling before, during and after physical activity. He or she should be fully hydrated with fluids and fueled with foods that contain electrolytes to maintain fluid levels. Fluids lost through sweat and breathing should be replaced by fluid consumption including during workouts, practices and games (physical activity).


Have a plan to contact medical professionals in an emergency. Also keep a “cool pool” or ice bath nearby so medical personnel can choose to immerse athletes suffering from heat stroke if necessary.

1 Maughan RJ and Murray R. Sports Drinks: Basic Science and Practical Aspects, Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2001; 7-8: 183-224.

    safety comes first

    Play Safer

    On fields across America, Pop Warner is making our game safer and better, while retaining what makes the sport so wonderful for young people. And we’re doing the same for our young athletes in cheer and dance.

    Pop Warner places value on safety measures that make a difference. That’s why we have done things in football like reduce contact to 25% of practice time, eliminate kickoffs for our youngest divisions and require that any player who suffers a suspected head injury receive medical clearance from a concussion specialist before returning to play.

    Giving our coaches the tools they need to teach the game the right way enhances those efforts. So we made USA Football’s Heads Up Football training mandatory for all Pop Warner coaches because a well-educated coach is critical to a safer football experience.

    Similarly, we require our cheer coaches to take the YCADA training. And we’re guided by an independent Medical Advisory Committee of neurosurgeons,
    sports medicine professionals, pediatricians and researchers.

    We think sports like football, cheer and dance offer so much to young person, from a fun, physically active lifestyle and a sense of teamwork to valuable life lessons like perseverance and sacrifice. To make it possible for them to enjoy those experiences we will never stop working to try and make football, cheerleading and dance safer.

    In this section, you will find helpful information for a variety of subjects including concussion awareness, hydration, training techniques, injury prevention, risk management and proper equipment.

    We hope you continually check back and use this section of the website as a resource during the season.

    Greater South Bend area Pop Warner

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