With another football season approaching football programs across the nation are taking the practice field in weather that continues to flirt with triple digits. Every team, from the NFL to Pop Warner, has the task of making sure their players are properly hydrated.
For the second year in a row the NFL, the Buffalo Bills and Gatorade are joining forces in the "Beat the Heat" campaign to educate parents and coaches on the importance of keeping players safe in the scorching summer temperatures.
The campaign uses clinics, a media campaign and donation days to further the education on keeping athletes safe by using hydration. Last season the Bills were the league's top earner in donations, bringing in $400 in one day.
Parents and coaches need to know the importance of proper hydration just as the Bills use numerous techniques to ensure that their players are fully hydrated for each practice and game. Combining the intake of liquids with a proper diet is the key to proper hydration for any athlete.
"It is a complete package. What you put into your system and how you make it run and the efficiency of it, certainly is dictated by what you do put in," said Buffalo Bills head athletic trainer Bud Carpenter. "Your body is only going to run as well as what you have in it. You can't just have water in the fuel tank."
The campaign is continuing the work that the Bills athletic training staff has carried on for many years in the Buffalo community. The Bills training staff has traveled to numerous high schools to show many of the methods that are used by the Bills that can also be adopted by amateur programs with little or no cost.
"We talk to schools about sports injuries, hydration, heat tents and things they can apply," said Carpenter. "Everybody thinks it is a costly venture and they realize that it is not."
The risk for heat related illnesses is greatly increased when someone is not properly hydrated. While heat related illnesses are extremely dangerous they are 100% preventable. The missing link is quite often the proper education.
"Education in everything," said Carpenter. "The more you can educate the coaches and parents the more it is going to trickle down to the athletes."
As a package with the proper diet, hydration is necessary both on and off the field. During practice or a game the Bills athletic training staff is constantly giving players fluids to put in their systems. However, it is necessary to come prepared to perform.
"[Hydration] comes in many ways; it comes in the form of liquids, with Gatorade, water and with other carbohydrates. We do it in combination with the foods but we try and do it well in advance of whether it is a practice or a game," said Carpenter.
By taking very simple steps athletes young and old can ensure that they stay hydrated in the summer heat. As the "Beat the Heat" campaign continues the Bills hope to set the bar for league donations yet again in their quest to educate on the importance of hydration.