5 Ways The Best Coaches Prepare For Cold Weather
5 Ways The Best Coaches Prepare For Cold Weather
When it comes to outdoor sports, playing in cold weather is a necessary evil. Most seasons during the school year involve some sort of severe weather. The last month or so of the fall season can get very chilly. Throughout the winter, cold weather coupled with hot gyms can be a problem. In the spring, the beginning of the season calls for jackets while the end of the season has athletes sweating.
What’s dangerous about playing in cold weather is the effects chilly temperatures can have on an athlete’s body. The best coaches prepare for cold weather during every season to protect their athletes and ensure a successful season. Here are five easy tips for getting your athlete’s cold weather ready and keeping them warm and healthy during chilly practices, games, and travel times.
1. Stress Stretching
During warm weather, you probably have your team stretch before doing any exercise. However, you have to do things a little bit differently in colder weather. The best coaches prepare for cold weather by having athletes start with light activity before stretching. That is because stretching a cold muscle can result in pulling or straining their muscles because they are tight.
Have athletes start with a light activity like jogging or walking before they stretch. Then, instruct them to take part in dynamic stretching. This is better than static stretching in the winter because it helps keep your athletes’ blood flowing while simultaneously loosening their muscles.
Don’t forget the cooldown! Whether you win or lose, make sure your team cools down with static stretching to slow your athletes’ heart rates and stretch muscles to avoid unwanted injuries. Even though it’s already cold outside, this last step is very important.
2. Live For Layers
The second tip the best coaches follow when it comes to preparing their athletes for cold weather sports is to tell them to wear layers. Layers are very important during the colder months, even for sports played indoors. Layers let your athletes control their temperature by regulating it with ventilation. Let your athletes know that a warm torso will help their keep their extremities warm while they are playing. They should also keep their layers on while sitting on the bench. Gloves are normally allowed by most leagues, especially for soccer and football. These can be lifesavers for athletes during chilly nights on the field.
On the other hand, when athletes take part in an indoor sport like basketball or wrestling, they should also layer up before they even leave their house. By wearing enough layers while they travel to the gym, they ensure they keep their muscles as warm as possible. It is also very important that athletes put these layers back on after the game before they head back outside. While they will most likely be sweaty and object, they can get sick and risk their muscles cooling down too quickly if they do not layer up.
3. Help With Hydration
The third tip is to not forget about hydration! It is easy to forget about hydrating during cooler months because some athletes do not sweat as much, but did you know that the likelihood of dehydration is greater when you train or play in cold weather? This is because the air your athletes breathe is drier and their lungs have to work harder to humidify that air. In any weather, the harder a body works, the more water it requires.
You can help your student-athletes with hydration by encouraging them to carry a water bottle around with them before and after games or matches. A good tip to remind them about is to have them rehydrate with electrolytes and carbohydrates as well if they are exercising for more than one hour. Another good hydration tip is to have your athletes rehydrate with room temperature water. While cold water seems preferable, the body actually absorbs warm water quicker. Warmer or room temperature drinks are better at keeping internal temperatures optimal.
Get more tips about preventing dehydration throughout the year.
4. Hypersensitivity to Hypothermia
Cold temperatures increase the risk of hypothermia. Hypothermia is a medical emergency that occurs when someone’s body loses heat faster than it can produce it. This causes dangerously low body temperatures. The normal body temperature is around 98.6 F but hypothermia occurs when body temperatures fall below 95 F.
The first way you as a coach can be hypersensitive to hypothermia is to know the warning signs. Shivering is the first thing you will notice your athletes doing if they are beginning to suffer from hypothermia. This is the body’s attempt to warm itself. Other signs of hypothermia include:
- Slurred speech or mumbling
- Slow, shallow breathing
- Weak pulse
- Clumsiness or lack of coordination
- Low energy
- Confusion or memory loss
- Loss of consciousness
As you can see, a lot of these symptoms are similar to other sports-related injuries like concussions. That is why the best coaches know the signs and keep a look out for them when temperatures drop. If one of your players is experiencing any symptoms of hypothermia, make sure you get a trainer involved right away and don’t inflict any jarring movements on the player.
5. Move Your Muscles
The final tip to prepare your players for severe cold is to make sure they are moving their muscles. Even with a good warm up, players can stiffen up and their muscles can cool down when they sit on the bench as subs, during halftime or in between quarters, and during any other stoppage time. Make sure you keep players on the bench moving with frequent jogs or stretches. Have an assistant coach be in charge of this so you can keep your eyes on the field.
This is also important during practices. Make sure players are moving throughout the workout. Adrenaline will keep them warm and focused. Schedule your workouts so that there is as little downtime as possible.
Do you have any other tips for protecting athletes in cold weather? Let us know in the comments below! If you would like to learn more about our weather services for coaches and schools, please visit our page.