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Two-a-day football practices begin amid historic heat wave

Despite near-record drought conditions, athletic trainers say it's not yet hot enough to alter practice schedules or cancel sessions.

SAN ANTONIO — Thousands of young Texans resumed football practices this week in historically hot weather

San Antonio temperatures have reached 100 F more than 50 days already this year. Summer conditions arrived early and have yet to relent. 

Meteorologists have often compared 2022's climate to 2011, when many Texas schools canceled outdoor training sessions to protect children from heat exhaustion. Public school policymakers set new practice rules soon after that schoolyear began. 

Water breaks are mandatory and athletic trainers will take science-based precautions to prevent overheating, but they say temperatures are not yet extreme enough to alter practice schedules this year. 

Extreme drought conditions keep the air dry, meaning heat indices in Texas have remained closer to actual temperatures this summer. It doesn't yet feel hot enough in the mornings and evenings to cut practice time, Northside ISD coordinator of athletic training Paul Rost said. 

Hydration is especially important, then. 

"You wouldn't get in the car and drive from here to El Paso with a quarter tank of gas," Rost said. "You've got to fill your tank up."

Rost says his staff tries to instill hydration habits in NISD athletes year-round. They've trained athletes and coaches to recognize symptoms of heat exhaustion. 

But trainers are now asking parents to ensure their football players drink water at home, not simply during strenuous activity. 

"You've got to be ready to go," Rost said. "You can't start drinking that morning when you get up."

Rost says male athletes should drink about 3 liters of water each day. 

"You have to start drinking at night, then in the morning - whenever you can," he said. "That's a fool-proof way to stay hydrated."

Nutrition and sleep also play vital roles in heat recovery. Players shouldn't attempt to practice on an empty stomach. 

"The last thing you want... is a kid that has heat exhaustion or heat stroke," Rost said. "We take it seriously." 

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