Hydration Breaks Approved in NCAA Soccer


Water breaks necessary when wet bulb globe temperature (WBGT) reaches 86 degrees

A black and white soccer ball on turf

To protect student-athletes from heat-related dangers, the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved hydration breaks for NCAA soccer games. These hydration breaks will happen at a set time during each half of both men’s and women’s soccer games starting during the 2019-20 academic year.

The NCAA Men’s and Women’s Soccer Rules Committee proposed this hydration break rule in March 2019. This proposal came after reviewing recommendations from the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports. The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved the hydration breaks in April 2019.

A tan arm holding up a water bottle to signify a hydration break

How Do Hydration Breaks Work?

Hydration breaks won’t happen whenever players are thirsty.

The rule will only apply during matches taking place when it’s too hot. What is “too hot?” Rule makers decided this rule goes into effect when the wet bulb globe temperature hits 86 degrees or higher.

The hydration breaks will occur between the 25- and 30-minute marks of the first half and the 70- and 75-minute marks of the second half. These hydration breaks will last a minimum of two minutes. If necessary, referees can grant additional water breaks.

It is up to the host personnel to instruct the on-field officials if the wet bulb globe temperature reaches 86 degrees. Then the referee is responsible to inform the head coaches and implement the hydration breaks.

This means that if schools need a wet bulb globe temperature thermometer on school grounds, if they don’t have one already. Some school weather stations have wet bulb globe temperature thermometers.

A red question mark over a grey circle backgroundWhat is Wet Bulb Globe Temperature?

Wet bulb globe temperature is a measurement used to estimate the most accurate level of heat stress in direct sunlight. It’s more accurate than temperature or heat index because it takes more factors into account.

In fact, wet bulb globe temperature considers five factors:  temperature, humidity, wind speed, sun angle, and cloud cover (solar radiation). For reference, temperature is just one factor while heat index considers two factors.

Many schools already use wet bulb globe temperature to help protect their student-athletes and implement heat acclimatization. Heat acclimatization is the process of adjusting one‘s body to high-temperature conditions. By putting your athletes through a thorough heat acclimatization at the beginning of the season, you can lower their heart rates, reduce their body and skin temperature responses, and increase sweat production and blood flow.

A red soccer ball over a grey circular background

Other Associations with Hydration Breaks  

The NCAA isn’t the first association to implement hydration breaks during soccer matches. Back in 2014, a Brazilian Court ordered FIFA to introduce mandatory breaks for players during the World Cup. They implemented these breaks around the 30-minute mark of each half when the wet bulb globe temperature hit 89.6 degrees.

Major League Soccer (MLS) introduced water breaks back in 2015, also based on wet bulb globe temperature. This is just one of the many steps MLS takes to protect their players from extreme weather. They also use weather visualization and lightning alerts to keep players and spectators safe.

Illustration of a hand holding up a red card over a grey circular background

Make Sure You Comply

As with all NCAA rules and regulations, you want to make sure you school complies. The first step in following this rule is getting a wet bulb globe temperature thermometer or weather station that includes such a thermometer at your school.

If you don’t have a system to monitor wet bulb globe temperature or don’t have a reliable method for receiving temperature alerts, we can help. Click the button below to learn about our wet bulb globe temperature monitoring and alerting solution and receive a free demo.

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