As fall practice officially began for football, cross country, volleyball, and girls’ soccer on Monday, July 29, as well as the golf season officially underway, it is important for administrators, coaches, student-athletes, and parents to be reminded of the TSSAA Heat Policy that is in place to help protect the health and safety of the student-athletes across the state.

The school is responsible for ensuring that the heat index can be measured at the location of all activities. The use of a weather app on a cell phone is permissible, but not encouraged if a digital psychrometer or other instrument is available to use at the site of the activity.

The easiest (and perhaps most important) aspect of the policy is that all activity, whether it be practice or competition, must stop if the Heat Index is above 104 degrees. Separate/different precautions must be taken if the Heat Index is 104 or below, but still at a level that can affect a student-athlete during activity in their sport. The full Heat Policy can be found here.

Modifications for specific sports on precautions that should be taken between a Heat Index of 95-104 can be found here.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) published a study in 2010 that stated heat illness is the leading cause of death and disability among high school athletes. According to the CDC, there are more than 9,000 heat illnesses among high school athletes annually.

While there is no existing requirement for youth sports coaches to have annual training for heat illness prevention and treatment, TSSAA strongly recommends that all coaches and sponsors of activities which occur outdoors complete the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Heat Illness Prevention Course before working with students each season.