Iowa soccer players heating up and not in a good way

BY NICK STEFFEN | JUNE 25, 2014 5:00 AM

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With the World Cup taking place in Brazil and the World Cup set to take place in Qatar in 2022, some have expressed concern about the health of players and how well they can perform in the heat. During the United States’ recent draw against Portugal, officials called for the first ever water break in World Cup history because of the high temperature. When examining intense forms of exercise, such as soccer, that are played in high temperatures, it is important to look at the two effects of elevated body temperature, hyperthermia and dehydration.

Hyperthermia reduces the body’s ability to maintain muscular contractions for longer lengths of time. Dehydration can occur very quickly in a hot environment, and athletes suffering form dehydration quickly lose endurance and become exhausted much faster. Playing in hot conditions not only affects players physically, it can also influence their performances mentally, causing players to make simple mistakes. Iowa soccer players are among those who have experienced the affects of heat firsthand. 

“You get tired and have mental lapses, you make errors you wouldn’t normally make because mental plays just as big a role as physical,” senior Caitlin Brown said. “We start practice again in August with two-a-days, and that’s always a harder part of the year. Coming back, we haven’t been playing games or practicing at the Big Ten level, so it’s always an adjustment in the summer heat, but it’s nothing I can’t beat with rehydration, rest, and recovery.” Full adaptation to hot conditions can be achieved by continuously working out in the heat. The body gets used to the heat, and cooling down (sweating) becomes more frequent and precise, allowing athletes to perform in high temperatures close to the level they would at room temperature.

Senior Katie Nasenbenny said the staff at Iowa have players weigh in before practice and out after practice, and players can lose up to three or four pounds in water weight during a single practice. She stressed how important it is to rehydrate and eat a good meal after practices like that. “When we play here at Iowa in the summer, the heat really does affect us; it’ll be 90 to 95 degrees, and we’ll play a pickup game in center field, and when we break for water, whenever we come back, I feel like the level of play isn’t as great because the heat really takes a toll on you,” she said.

Dana Dalrymple has participated as both a player and coach and has noticed the effects that heat and humidity can have on players. “Heat affects players during game and practices a lot, and honestly, I think that it’s more so humidity than heat that affects players,” Dalrymple said. “It takes a toll on your body and depletes your resources, you sweat more, you lose a lot of your energy that way, and it speeds up cramping more so than in cold weather. I’ve noticed it as a player and as a coach.”

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