NNLL's "Hydration Education" program

Proper hydration and heat illness are very important topics for all coaches and parents to understand. 

As part of NNLL's "Culture of Safety," all Little League parents/guardians are required to submit a signed Hydration Education Parent/Athlete Attestation Form, acknowledging their understanding of the NNLL's Hydration Education program.


Why Is proper hydration so important?

Every year a number of tragedies occur relating to heat stroke and dehydration.

According to the National Athletic Trainers' Association, it is not uncommon to reach dehydration levels significant enough to place athletes at risk of developing heat illness in as little as one hour of exercise. Athletes can reach this level even more rapidly if they begin the workout, practice or competition already dehydrated. It is quite common for many young players to arrive at the game or practice already dehydrated. A full day at school, running around at recess, gym class, not eating or drinking properly throughout the day will all contribute to a child being dehydrated before the game or practice even starts. 

Even during cool temperatures, a young athlete can dehydrate quickly. On hot days, the risk of heat illness is very real and it is imperative that players are kept as hydrated and cool as possible.


We use the Heat Index to determine how hot it really feels

The National Weather Service's Heat Index (sometimes referred to as the "apparent temperature," is given in degrees Fahrenheit and is a measure of how hot it really feels when relative humidity is factored in with the actual air temperature. These days will be identified by the League as "Hydration Education" days.


We send out Heat Alerts on the most dangerous days

North Natomas Little League will issue heat alerts on days when the Heat Index is expected to reach the "Extreme Caution" threshold (shown in the above chart starting at an "apparent temperature" of 91 degrees).

On these days, which will be called "Hydration Education" days, the League will send out email and text messages at the beginning of the day reminding players to properly hydrate before the start of that day's game or practice. Sign up for "Extreme Caution" heat alerts here.


We take precautions, too 

On “Hydration Education” days, the League will take the following precautions to ensure the safety of all its members:

  • The League will maintain on its website a dedicated page for the “Hydration Education” Program. This page will be used to post Program information, guidelines, FAQ, tips for proper hydration, and the League’s mandatory requirements surrounding the Hydration Education Program.
  • On “Hydration Education” days, the League will send out a SMS text message at the beginning of the day reminding SMS subscribers to properly hydrate before the start of that day’s game or practice, following NNLL’s Strategy for Proper Hydration. The League will also post a message on the NNLL Facebook fan page with this reminder.
  • In the extremely rare event that the Heat Index Value is forecasted to reach the “Extreme Danger” zone during a scheduled game or practice time, the League will postpone all games and practices. (The “Extreme Danger” threshold is reached when the apparent temperature reaches 126 degrees.)


Managers and coaches should also take precautions!

On “Hydration Education” days, Managers should take the following precautions to ensure the safety of all participants:

  • Provide water coolers in the dugouts. Managers should remind their players to take drinks of water before going on and when coming off the field.
  • During practices, Managers should allow time for water breaks every 15 to 30 minutes.
  • If a player looks distressed while standing in direct sun exposure, the Manager will substitute that player and immediately get the player into the shade.
  • If a player should collapse as a result of heat exhaustion, 911 shall be called
    immediately. Get the player to drink water and use the instant ice bags supplied in the first aid kit to cool the player down until the emergency medical team arrives.


Don't forget about "Blue"!

On “Hydration Education” days, Umpires should take the following precautions to ensure the safety of all participants as well as their own safety:

  • Because of the protective gear they are required to wear, umpires shall follow the same guidelines and recommendations outlined for players throughout this policy.
  • Umpires shall keep a close watch on players (particularly, pitchers and catchers), looking for signs of heat illness. Managers will in turn keep a close watch on the umpires.
  • If a player looks distressed while standing in direct sun exposure, the umpire will call timeout and ask the Manager to substitute that player and immediately get the player into the shade.
  • Umpires, at their discretion, may suspend any game they deem to be too dangerous to continue.


Parents need to do their part 

On “Hydration Education” days, parents/legal guardians are encouraged to take the following precautions to ensure the safety of their child:

  • Parents should encourage their child to take responsibility for his/her own hydration routine.
  • Parents should ensure that their child consumes an adequate amount of fluids, beginning first thing in the morning of a game or practice and continuing throughout the day as outlined in the League’s “Strategy for Proper Hydration” below. Athletes that are not well hydrated BEFORE they step on the field are already at a loss.
  • NNLL recommends the use of sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 15 as a means of protection against the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays. For best results, parents should ensure that sunscreen is applied 30 minutes prior to exposure to allow the ingredients to fully bind to the skin. Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours (or more often if the player is sweating a lot).


NNLL’s strategy for proper hydration is as easy as 1-2-3

A proper hydration strategy involves three distinct phases:

1. Pre-Hydrate
Before each game or practice:

  • Whenever possible, parents and coaches should encourage players to take responsibility for their own hydration routine.
  • “If you're thirsty it's too late!” Kids that are not well hydrated BEFORE they step on the field are already at a loss.
  • Players should drink 16 ounces of fluid first thing in the morning of a practice or game.
  • Players should drink an additional 8 to 16 ounces of fluid one hour prior to the start of the practice or game.
  • Players should drink another 8 to 16 ounces of fluid 20 minutes prior to the start of the practice or game. 

2. Hydrate
During each game or practice:

  • Do not hesitate to call 911 for any heat-related illness.
  • On hot days, NNLL recommends that Managers and Coaches keep wet hand towels in an ice chest that the players can use to cool themselves down. Because of all the gear they wear, this is particularly important for the catchers and umpires.
  • Players should have unlimited access to fluids (sports drinks and water) throughout the game or workout.
  • Guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) outline how to keep young athletes prepared for exercise during the hot months of summer:
    • Children aged 9-12 years should drink frequently – 4 to 8 ounces of water every 20 minutes.
    • Teens should drink 13 to 16 ounces of water or sports drink every 20 minutes.
  • During practices, managers should run drills in groups so while one group runs, the other group is getting a break.
  • All players should drink fluids during water breaks. A lot of players will say that they are not thirsty; however, in many cases by the time they realize that they are thirsty, they are already dehydrated or on their way to becoming dehydrated. Make sure all your players are getting the proper fluids.
  • Players should drink during the practice or game to minimize losses in body weight but should not over drink.

    3. Re-Hydrate
    After each game or practice:

    • Parents or coaches should weigh players before and after practice. For each pound lost during the workout, an athlete should consume at least 24 ounces of fluid. If this recommended amount of fluid is not consumed, the player must replace 80% of lost weight by next practice to avoid dehydration.
    • Players/parents should check the color of the player's urine. If it is a dark, gold color (like apple juice), the player is already slightly dehydrated. 


    Other hydration tips

    • Avoid carbonated drinks. They can cause bloating and may decrease the amount of fluid consumed.
    • Avoid caffeinated beverages (like tea, cola or Mountain Dew) as they may cause the body to lose body fluids.
    • Fluids containing carbohydrates and small amounts of sodium chloride are likely to have more beneficial effects than plain water.
    • Drink it, don't pour it. A player pouring fluid over his/her head may feel great, but it won't help restore body fluids or lower body temperature.
    • Allow for acclimation – the body's adaptation to a hot environment. Managers and coaches should slowly increase practice intensity and duration over the first two weeks of training. Most cases of heat illness occur in the first 2 to 3 days of training.
    • If possible, hold practices in the morning or evening when the weather is coolest. 

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