Local students go back to practice fields

August 11, 2008 9:04:28 PM PDT
Ready or not, fall sports season is kicking into action. Most student-athletes at Upper Merion Area High School said they were excited.

"I'm pumped, I'm psyched, a lot of emotions but they're all good," said junior field hockey player Ginny Laskowski.

But while some students have been gearing up all summer, some aren't 100-percent ready. Allie Lutz admitted she's "a little rusty." And senior football player Greg Greenaway said, "No matter what you do, can't replicate training on the field, besides playing football."

Experts say that lack of conditioning, mixed with intense training, and the heat, sometimes with added padding, makes the pre-season the most dangerous time for injuries.

"We can't rush conditioning," said Jim Rogers of Temple University Sports Medicine, adding, "If we rush conditioning, then our injury rates go high."

He said it takes two to three weeks to acclimate to the weather and get in 'game shape.'

That's why soccer coach Tom Dodds of Upper Merion Area High School said although they practice twice a day, the intensity of the drills advance gradually. "The ones who are fit, will build on their fitness and the ones who are not, will obviously improve on it," he said.

Kids who are lagging behind should be closely monitored for heat-related illnesses and breathing problems. Parents can also help by making sure kids are sleeping eight hours a night and eating well, even before a morning practice.

Kristen Malikoski, trainer for the high school said, "Have a bagel, or fruit. You don't have to eat five pancakes but need something to make sure you have enough fuel to get you through it."

And of course, drinking fluids, water or sports drinks, is key. But keeping up with hydration, especially with daily practice, can be a struggle.

"A lot of kids, they go home, they're tired, they're a little dehydrated and they eat their dinner, and they go to bed so exhausted. They get up the next morning and they start day two already a bit low on their fluids, said Rogers.

Malikowski said athletes should hydrate before, during and after practice. Parents can also weigh kids in the morning and in the evening. "It is a good way to measure," she said, adding, "if you step on the scale in the morning and you're 150, then after practice you're 145, the key is to eat and drink enough to get up close to 150 so you're ready for the next day."

And then they'll also be ready come game time.

If children have asthma, they need to make sure they are taking all pre-practice medications and have their inhalers with them at all times on the field. Coaches also need to be made aware of any potential medical problems.