Practice start-up means reminding schools of risks

July 31, 2017 by Les Willsey, AZPreps365

McClintock's football team goes through one of its first workouts of the season already adjusting practice start time and adding extra water breaks. (Photo by

All Arizona high schools have or will hit the practice field for the coming football season this week. Other fall sports follow suit soon. The reminder of health issues to watch for schools, coaches and players are being emphasized as workouts blossom.

The Arizona Interscholastic Association, Barrow Neurological Institute and Tempe high school district partnered to that end Monday afternoon at McClintock High School.

The Head/Heart/Heat initiative, three primary causes of athletes death were discussed wtih guidelines and suggestions for monitoing those areas as athletes battle high temperatures and humidity and exertion in the gym or pool..

Barrow is advising the AIA on its Head/Heart/Heat program with Dr. Kareem Shaarawy, a Barrow sports medicine physician, addressing those issues at a McClintock football workout. 

"These issues continue to grow in importance with schools now traiining year-round," Shaarawy said. "It's essentail kids and coaches know and learn the rules of climatization. Get hydrated before practice, and make sure it happens after practice, too. The recommendation is one to one-and-half liter of fluids per hour. Some of that should be sports drink to restore electrolytes lost."

Arizona has not had a heat-related death in football for a couple of years. Schools have also been more vigilant with concussion protocol, Shaarawy said.

Shaarawy said the best thing about spring and out of season practice in football is the importance of no contact. Still there have been more concussions occurring because practice time (year round) has been extended.

"The more teams adhere to climatization and getting athletes in shape cardiovascularly the less the risk for coaches and athletic trainers," Shaarawy said. "They have a lot kids to look after. Paying attention to the basics is critical in helping them out."

McClintock football coach Corbin Smith and his staff already have made adjustments to the Chargers first couple of workouts.

"We knocked practice back a half and hour and have added more water breaks," Smith said.  "We will keep them hydrated and balance working efficiently and cutting back some if we need to."