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Good youth sports coaches know well the routine leading up to the early stages of a new season. Assess every child carefully, while identifying and then prioritising the particular gaps and needs, and next outline an approach and plan to effectively advance the process of individual talent and sport development in a positive and enjoyable learning environment, in an effort to make the most of each one's athletic potential and move closer to his or her personal sport aspirations. The coach then begins to work through progressive training and development sessions with each youth athlete and introduces appropriate complementary physical conditioning, while continuing to refine technique and develop viable new competitive tactics. The competition schedule is then carefully planned and the season begins. However, for many young athletes, especially those participating in summer outdoor individual or team sports, environmental heat stress—particularly when the humidity level is high—can have an unanticipated overriding negative impact that can readily undo advances in fitness, movement, speed, power, endurance and competition tactics and goals.
There is widespread recognition of and emphasis (including in the featured consensus statement)1 on the challenges to a young athlete's well-being, safety and sport performance when training and competing in the heat. Moreover, the contributing roles of the environment, acclimatisation status, hydration and other training or competition conditions and scenarios on mitigating or exacerbating exertional heat illness risk have been well clarified. Accordingly, recognised policy statements and guidelines on training and competing in the heat have placed an appropriate emphasis on addressing modifiable factors to meaningfully assist in keeping youth athletes safe and performing well in hot weather.2–4 Yet, undue heat-related problems continue across all sports when youth athletes train and compete in outdoor hot-weather venues. Unfortunately, the response is too often reactionary versus informed anticipation and prevention—that is, …
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