Roundtable on Preseason Heat Safety in Secondary School Athletics: Heat Acclimatization

J Athl Train. 2021 Apr 1;56(4):352-361. doi: 10.4085/1062-6050-596-20.

Abstract

Objective: To provide best-practice recommendations for developing and implementing heat-acclimatization strategies in secondary school athletics.

Data sources: An extensive literature review on topics related to heat acclimatization and heat acclimation was conducted by a group of content experts. Using the Delphi method, action-oriented recommendations were developed.

Conclusions: A period of heat acclimatization consisting of ≥14 consecutive days should be implemented at the start of fall preseason training or practices for all secondary school athletes to mitigate the risk of exertional heat illness. The heat-acclimatization guidelines should outline specific actions for secondary school athletics personnel to use, including the duration of training, the number of training sessions permitted per day, and adequate rest periods in a cool environment. Further, these guidelines should include sport-specific and athlete-specific recommendations, such as phasing in protective equipment and reintroducing heat acclimatization after periods of inactivity. Heat-acclimatization guidelines should be clearly detailed in the secondary school's policy and procedures manual and disseminated to all stakeholders. Heat-acclimatization guidelines, when used in conjunction with current best practices surrounding the prevention, management, and care of secondary school student-athletes with exertional heat stroke, will optimize their health and safety.

Keywords: acclimation; adaptations; exertional heat illness; exertional heat stroke.