Is it Too Cold to Play?

Another featured tip in the Province Sports Academy! The focus this time: the cold weather we’ve been hit with.

What’s your definition of “too cold?” It probably depends on where you live or where you grew up.

As long as the playing surface isn’t dangerous (too icy, hard or uneven) and the athlete is well prepared, practicing and playing in our current weather conditions is well within reason.

But you need to be prepared.

Bundle up – several thin layers are preferable with a tight, dry-fit undergarment as the first layer. Ensure the outer layer is wind resistant. Keep warm with gloves, a toque and an extra pair of socks. Also, bring a change of clothes. Replacing wet socks with a dry pair will go a long way in helping keep your feet warm.

Also, spend longer on your warm up and stay active throughout the entire session. Don’t forget to stay well hydrated – something that’s often neglected in cold weather.

Finally, glycogen stores (the body’s fuel) deplete more rapidly in cold conditions and eating additional carbohydrates before and after a workout will certainly help.

Recognizing Hypothermia on the Field

Cold injury or hypothermia is a condition that occurs when the body’s heat loss exceeds the body’s heat production. With mild hypothermia, the body’s core temperature drops from a healthy 37 degrees Celsius to between 32-35 degrees. It’s important to recognize the early symptoms that could lead to hypothermia.

Shivering is a definite warning sign. Athletes getting into trouble will initially exhibit unusual clumsy play, which can progress to uncoordinated movement patterns, placing them at a higher risk for injury.

In these cases, players should be removed from the cold. Warm, dry clothing should replace their wet gear. 

It’s essential that coaches plan their practices appropriately by including longer warm ups and avoiding drills that may cause inactivity, even for short periods of time.

During a match, players on the sidelines should remain active throughout. If possible, coaches should try to use frequent substitutions.

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Photo: Getty Images

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