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Trojan2003
07-30-2008, 12:45 PM
THE MESSENGER

Published Jul 29, 2008 - 21:29:57 CDT.

Protecting against the heat

By Matt Nascone, The Messenger

Football season is about here and athletes across the county will hit the gridiron for
practice, but for the first few weeks the sun will not be kind to those on the field.

Heat exhaustion is something every athlete will try and avoid. Troy University's head trainer, Chuck Ash, has a simple philosophy for keeping heat exhaustion at bay.

"Every coach needs to take precautions to protect his players," Ash said. "The most important aspects are timing of the practices and unlimited fluids."

Ash and Troy head football coach Larry Blakeney had a talk a few years ago about the best way to keep the Trojans safe from the heat. The solution was two-a-days instead of three-a-days. The Trojans now practice at 6 a.m. in the morning and 6 p.m. in the evening.

Troy also has water available to the players any time they need it. There is no room for the old school approach of water breaks.

"The old way of toughing out the heat is going away," Ash said. "If you have a good coach he realizes that athletes need fluids to perform at a high level. A rule of thumb is to drink one gallon per 100 pounds of body weight."

Ash said if one of the Trojans players needs water, they are free to get it whenever they want it. The reasoning for the timing of the practices and the unlimited water is
simple for Ash. "Studies prove that when an athlete's body is really hot, it will overheat and quit before the conditioning phase," Ash said. "Players are just trying to get through the workout, rather than paying attention to what the coaches are saying. That is why we practice during the coolest times of the day and we have unlimited water."

But Ash said water is not the only aspect of hydration. "The best advice I can give any athlete is to drink lots of electrolytes that you find in your Powerades and Gatorades," Ash said. "You can only drink so much water before it is too much."
Ash said most athletes will remember about the hydration, but forget about eating.
"Nine out of 10 times when athletes get in trouble with heat it is because they did not eat breakfast," he said. "If you don't eat you have nothing to draw from when you are out in the heat."

The Troy athletes are encouraged to eat a 6,000-7,000 calorie diet per day. "Don't eat light, but eat light foods," Ash said. "If you don't supply your body with the vital calories it needs, you are at a greater risk of heat exhaustion. Drink plenty of fluids and electrolytes and eat plenty of lean proteins and carbohydrates."

Ash has a few suggestions for the Troy players when they head to the cafeteria. "We encourage them to get as colorful a salad as possible and grab as much veggies and fruits as they want," Ash said. "Then you can eat the other stuff like the pizza and the hamburger, but hit the carbs and proteins first. And walk out of there with an oatmeal cookie or some ice cream. Eating those oatmeal cookies is like eating a power bar."

Adding sodium to the diet is also a good thing, according to Ash. He said some of the Troy players can lose up to two liters of sodium per day in sweat. That is why he recommends drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day. One precaution for on the field includes taking a 10-minute break in the shade with all the equipment off.

The Troy athletes watch a PowerPoint presentation to educate them on these precautions when they get to Troy and Ash said a lot of good has come out of the two-a-days at six and six. "All of our guys are in tune with today's precautions and we watch out
for them out there," Ash said.