Heat and Athletes

football players lined up in a game

People who exercise in extreme heat are more likely to become dehydrated and get heat-related illness.


If you feel faint or weak, STOP all activity and get to a cool place.

If you plan to exercise while it’s hot outside:

  • Limit outdoor activity, especially during the middle of the day when the sun is hottest.
  • Wear and reapply sunscreen as indicated on the package.
  • Schedule workouts and practices earlier or later in the day when the temperature is cooler.
  • Pace activity. Start activities slow and pick up the pace gradually.
  • Drink more water than usual, and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink more. Muscle cramping may be an early sign of heat-related illness.
  • Monitor a teammate’s condition, and have someone do the same for you.
  • Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Follow additional tips on how to prevent heat-related illness.

Learn how to spot heat-related illness

  • Seek medical care immediately if you or a teammate has symptoms of heat-related illness.
  • Take a CDC training course. Learn more on how to spot heat-related illness by participating in this course designed for coaches, teachers, parents, and high school athletes.

Heat-related illness in athletes can be prevented if coaches and athletes are properly educated about heat safety. Provided below are links to resources states are using to support this effort. In addition, we have provided links to two heat-related illness courses and a study on the effectiveness of heat acclimatization guidelines.

Some State Heat Resources for Athletes


Extreme heat toolkit, including heat illness prevention video and a music video for students, athletes
https://www.azdhs.gov/preparedness/epidemiology-disease-control/extreme-weather/heat-safety/index.php#heat-schoolsexternal icon

Heat acclimatization and illness management policy (Arizona Interscholastic Association)
http://aiaonline.org/files/16325/heat-acclimatization-exertional-heat-illness-management-policy.pdf pdf icon[PDF – 238 KB]external icon


Heat illness prevention guidelines (California Interscholastic Federation)
https://cifstate.org/sports-medicine/heat_illness/Prevention_of_Heat_Illness.pdf pdf icon[PDF – 62 KB]external icon


Heat resources for athletes (Michigan High School Athletic Association)
https://www.mhsaa.com/Schools/Health-Safety-Resources/Heatexternal icon

New York

Heat index procedures
http://www.nysphsaa.org/Portals/0/PDF/Safety/Heat%20Index%20Procedure_1.pdf pdf icon[PDF – 288 KB]external icon

Heat acclimatization
http://www.nysphsaa.org/ADs-Coaches/Safety-Researchexternal icon

Elevated temperatures associated with synthetic turf
https://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/outdoors/synthetic_turf/crumb-rubber_infilled/fact_sheet.htmexternal icon

North Carolina

Heat safety tips for athletes and coaches
https://publichealth.nc.gov/chronicdiseaseandinjury/doc/HeatSafetyTipsforAthletesandCoaches.pdf pdf icon[PDF – 411 KB]external icon


Coaching requirements, heat index policy (Oregon School Activities Association)
http://www.osaa.org/health-safetyexternal icon

Heat illness in athletes fact sheet (Multnomah County)
https://multco.us/file/74014/downloadexternal icon


Procedures for athletic participation in the heat
https://vpaonline.org/wp-content/uploads/Sports_Docs/vpa_heat_policy_aug2015_v4.pdf pdf icon[PDF – 478 KB]external icon

Heat Illness Prevention Resources

https://www.childrenscolorado.org/conditions-and-advice/sports-articles/for-coaches/preventing-treating-heat-illness-in-young-athletes/external icon

https://learn.truesport.org/heat-illness-youth-sports/external icon

https://www.sportsmedtoday.com/heat-illness-va-39.htmexternal icon

https://www.aetn.org/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/107899/Preventing_Heat_Illness.pdf pdf icon[PDF – 86.5 KB]external icon

https://www.fhsaa.org/sites/default/files/orig_uploads/health/pdf/gatorade_heatillness.pdf pdf icon[PDF – 143 KB]external icon

http://www.ncaa.org/sport-science-institute/heat-and-hydrationexternal icon

https://usafootball.com/programs/heads-up-football/middle-high-school/heat-hydration/external icon

National Weather Service – Heat Safety Tips and Resourcesexternal icon

American Red Cross – Heatexternal icon

National Weather Service Heat Indexexternal icon

Heat Illness Prevention Courses

Heat Illness Prevention (accreditation available for coaches)
https://nfhslearn.com/courses/34000/heat-illness-preventionexternal icon

Recognizing, Preventing, and Treating Heat-Related Illness (CDC)


The Association between Mandated Preseason Heat Acclimatization Guidelines and Exertional Heat Illness during Preseason High School American Football Practices (NIH paper)
https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/doi/10.1289/EHP4163external icon

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