As high school sports begin to start preseason workouts, those outdoor athletes and their coaches have to consider the Mississippi heat and its effects on the body as they train.
Coaches this year have been reminded by the Mississippi High School Activities Association of new mandates that dictate when and where practices may take place in extreme heat.
The MHSAA wants its coaches to use what is called a wet bulb globe temperature reading to determine when athletes workout outside, or if they have to move inside, or cancel practice workouts completely.
“The sports medicine community has long recognized that the thermometer alone does not tell the story of heat safety, with factors like direct sunlight, humidity, wind, and air pressure playing a large role in how hot it “feels” compared to what the thermometer reads,” MHSAA said in a post on its website. “The single best method we have of measuring all of those factors is WetBulb globe temperature, a method of measurement that takes into account the other factors that can drive up the risk while being outside in the heat.”
MHSAA says there are free apps for smartphones that give wet bulb globe temperatures for coaches and trainers to monitor.
One local football coach, Shelby Ford of DeSoto Central, said his staff will be documenting the wet bulb globe temperature on the practice field each day.
“If we can go outside, we’ll go outside,” Ford said. “If we can’t, we’re going to have to adjust just like any other adjustments we’ve had to make over the years.
Ford said coaches will look at and plan for other options to be sure his team will have accomplished something during a practice day.
“The coaches will talk, we’ll get ideas from each other and get everybody on the same page because the number one thing is the players’ safety,” Ford said. “If we can’t go outside, we’ll go to the weight room, we’ll watch film, we’ll be in the gym, doing something to get work in.”
The MHSAA said the following free smartphone apps may be used to monitor wet bulb globe temperatures:
Many states have already implemented WBGT readings for practice and participation modifications. Similar to temperature and heat index readings previously prescribed, as WBGT readings rise, practice time and duration is shortened while rest and hydration breaks are increased. Keep in mind, these regulations DO NOT remove the need to have a cold tub available for all outdoor practices, as some athletes will experience heat stress earlier due to size, physical fitness, or health conditions.