Recommendations for heat acclimatization and early-season football

Smoky Hill's football practice on Monday.

(Jack Eberhard/

The following are recommendations from CHSAA's Sports Medicine Committee for heat acclimatization and early-season football.

The committee is made up of three doctors, two district athletic directors, two assistant commissioners, two of the state's top athletic trainers, the chair of the football committee, and the president of the football coaches association, who also is a master trainer for USA Football.

These recommendations outline the heat acclimation process during the heat of the summer spanning a three-week window from the start of fall practice through Labor Day. They come from highly qualified individuals and are based in part on research done by other states and the NFHS. They have been adapted to Colorado's conditions.

The Sports Medicine Committee is headed by CHSAA assistant commissioner Jenn Roberts-Uhlig.

"We don't want to react. We want to be proactive," said Harry Waterman, assistant commissioner at CHSAA who oversees football. "We wanted to get this out there before something unfortunate happens."

Football recommendations during the acclimatization period:

  • Practice is defined as time on the field including warm-up, stretching, practice and conditioning.
  • Any single practice should not exceed 2 hours in length with an additional 25 minutes added for water breaks. A minimum of 2 water breaks should be incorporated each hour. Water should be readily available at all times.
  • If a second practice takes place on the same day, this practice should only be a walk-through and no protective gear (with the exception of a helmet) should be worn. A walk-through is defined as time dedicated to reviewing plays and field positions and should not exceed 1 hour.
  • A minimum of 2 hours should separate practices on the same day.
  • Total practice time should not exceed 2 hours for one practice and 3 hours total practice (on days when two practices are scheduled). This does not include water breaks.
  • Helmets should be removed for water breaks during warm weather conditions or after intense or prolonged exercise. This will help cool the core body temperature.
  • Every coaching staff should have a heat index application downloaded so they may monitor heat conditions at every practice.
  • See the USA Football Heads Up link for detailed information on heat, hydration and concussion. Heat index information and guidelines are outlined in this document.

Sports Medicine Committee Members

  • Jenn Roberts-Uhlig, CHSAA Assistant Commissioner
  • Larry Bull, District Athletic Director for Cherry Creek Schools
  • Eddie Hartnett, District Athletic Director for Adams 12 School District
  • H. Andrew Motz, MD; Advanced Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Specialists, P.C.
  • Karen McAvoy, PsyD; Director, Center for Concussion/Rocky Mtn. Youth Sports Medicine
  • Dr. Aaron Provance, MD; Children’s Hospital Colorado
  • Darryl Miller, MS, ATC, CSCS, EMT; DPS District Athletic Trainer
  • Chad Schmidt, MA, ATC; Sports Medicine/Orthopedic Spine Center of the Rockies

Invited Guests

  • Harry Waterman, CHSAA Assistant Commissioner
  • Michael Krueger, District Athletic Director for Aurora Public Schools/Football Committee Chair
  • Wayne Voorhees, Head Football Coach at Legacy HS/CHSCA President for Football/Master Trainer for USA Football Heads Up Program