COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Of all the physical demands and mental hurdles football players face during a season, one of the most challenging is the first one they face – the summer heat.
“This is the hardest part of football right now. You’ve just got to grind and fight with your teammates,” says Westerville Central senior football player Preston Yeater.
Practices for all high school fall sports begin on August 1, but the Ohio High School Athletic Association has a mandatory heat acclimation period for football programs during two-a-days.
For the first two days, the only equipment players can wear is their helmet; shoulder pads are added on day three and full uniforms are worn on day five. After five days, full contact is allowed.
“Once we get to game days, they can’t take those pads off, so they have to get used to wearing the helmets, used to wearing the shoulder pads, used to wearing all that gear,” says Westerville Central athletic trainer Karissa Dahdah. “Or else they’re going to get dehydrated or their bodies will cramp and they’re going to go in to shock.”
Although the official heat acclimation period is only five days long, the players have plenty more time to prepare their bodies for the regular season, which begins in the final week of August.