Coaches play it safe when it comes to practicing outside in the heat

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BAY COUNTY, Fla (WJHG/WECP) - Coaches in the Panhandle expect it to be hot.

"Well Jamie, it's hot," Phil Tisa, South Walton football coach said. "It's bleeping hot!"

But that doesn't stop sports, like football, from practicing every week in the summer heat.

"We do our best to plan and prepare to make the workout as strenuous as possible," Mike Watkins, Bay football coach said. "But nothing too crazy."

As temps rise, so do the chances of heat related incidents.

"It's Florida," Tisa said. "It's hot, it's humid, but at the same time we've kind of grown used to it as opposed to somebody who may be out of the area."

Summer practice isn't regulated from FHSAA; leaving these months almost exclusively in the hands of individual district and schools to regulate.

But gone are the days of the coach Boone's on Remember the Titans.

"The whole mentality used to be water makes you soft and that's absolutely ridiculous," Jeremy Brown, Mosley football coach said. "Water makes the human body function. You've got to keep kids hydrated."

Frequent water breaks are encouraged.

"You definitely have to make sure that you have water available for them," Tisa said. "You have to give them break times. We have that built in to our schedule every day."

That's one of many steps taken to better protect their players.

"I tell them if they're feeling a little light headed or wousy, or whatever, just go sit off on the side or until you feel right," Watkins said.

Some believe the earlier the practice, the better.

"One of the reasons we go in the morning is to really try to beat the heat," Brown said. "The whole idea of practicing in the heat of the day didn't make a lot of sense since we play our games at night."

FHSAA recently postponed a decision on the heated debate to require heat stress thermometers and ice baths.

"Worst case scenario somebody falls out," Watkins said. "I know with social media, and t.v., and that stuff has happened and that stuff gets spread out. It's kind of a scare tactic."

"Our game is under attack so we have to do whatever we can to make it as safe as possible to keep as many kids involved as possible," Tisa said.

Coaches hope being safe and knowledgeable will prevent future requirements and changes to the game.

"We stay on the kids about staying hydrated, their nutrition, trying to talk to them about what they eat," Brown said. "We'll make sure that the kids that need it are fed when they leave here every day. We take care of all that."