There’s summertime hot. And then there’s “suffering-through-your-kid’s-ballgame-while-your-face-drips-sweat-and-you’re-cranky-and-stinky-and-miserable-and-don’t-care-who-wins-anymore-because-you-just-want-to-get-back-to-your-air-conditioned-vehicle” summertime hot.
Every travel ball parent can relate to this feeling (whether or not you’ll admit the part about not caring who wins anymore.) And the poor players, with their uniforms and long socks and catcher’s equipment! It’s funny how they complain about being hot waaaay less than we parents do.
All kidding aside, spending long periods of time out in the heat isn’t just uncomfortable. It’s dangerous. Life threatening, even. We can never be too vigilant about making sure our kids are staying cool and hydrated when they’re playing ball in triple digit temperatures.
Here are our top 10 tips on the matter. (In no particular order. Well, they started out in order, but after #4 things got kind of random.)
1) WATER WATER WATER!!!!!
We can’t stress the importance of staying hydrated enough. It’s vital!
Before Games: Drink eight ounces of water one to two hours before hitting the field. Repeat this 15 minutes before game time.
During Games: Drink five ounces of water every 15 to 20 minutes.
After Games: Within two hours, drink at least 24 ounces of water or sports drink for every pound of weight lost to sweat and activity.
Sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade are fine during games and right after games. But they contain a lot of sugar that can lead to energy crashes. Avoid caffeinated drinks too. Water should be an athlete’s go-to beverage any other time.
IMPORTANT: Make sure your player isn’t just drinking water. He/she needs to be taking in some healthy snacks with a little salt in them. The salt helps the body absorb the water. A person who is drinking only water without eating anything can still get dehydrated! (Happened to my son last year. So scary!)
Every player should have their own cooler to drink from during games.
Under Armour 64 oz insulated water bottle. It’s our players’ first choice. and doesn’t seem to leak like others. $24.95 on Amazon.
2) Ammonia Water aka Florida Water (This sounds like a cocktail, the kind that would go down too easily and cause one to do stupid things they won’t remember the next day. But it’s not, I promise.)
-Bottle of Spirits of Ammonia
In a cooler, mix 3/4 bottle of ammonia spirits with ice and a gallon of water. Keep this concoction in the dugout with wash cloths and/or Frog Toggs soaking in it.
When coming in from the field, players can cool off by placing the soaked cloths on their faces, around necks, pulse points, arms, etc.
*Don’t drink it, suck on the cloths or inhale for long periods of time. (Hopefully you didn’t need to be told that.)
Spirits of Ammonia – 5 Pack for $28.49
Frogg Toggs: If your kid doesn’t have a Frogg Togg or other type cooling towel to cool them off between innings, it’s a must for playing ball in the summer. Just $10.80 on Amazon and worth every penny!
3) Personal Misters – These are great to have in the dugout for a quick cool down. We’re told that when sprayed they cool the air by 10 to 30 degrees. (But we keep forgetting to bring a thermometer into the dugout to verify this claim.)
Our favorite is the CoreGear USA 1.5 Liter Mister. It works by pumping, so you don’t have to fool with batteries.
4) Lightweight Uniforms – When selecting team uniforms, style should always take a backseat to comfort. Before buying new baseball pants, check out different materials. Our boys swear that Under Armour pants are the lightest and most comfortable, but we haven’t tried every single brand out there.
In preparation for summer’s sweltering temps, one of our teams traded in their vests for cool dry fit t-shirt style jerseys. They’re way more comfortable and so much lighter on the body.
5) Dugout Fans – While old school baseballers might roll their eyes at the idea of having fans in the dugout, we’re all for keeping cool and circulating that stagnant dugout air.
The 02Cool Portable Fan is a great option for $24.88.
6) Helmet Liners – These things are great and hide well under helmets (depending on the size of your kid’s head). They promote coolness and circulation by keeping sweat away from the skin.
Mission Athletecare Enduracool Instant Cooling Skull Cap – $11.99 on Amazon.
Soak it in cold water, wring out the excess and wear under a helmet. Repeat several times during games.
7) Stay out of the Sun – It’s impossible to play ball in the shade because most baseball diamonds don’t have trees. (Although it might be an interesting challenge if they did.) But you can keep kids out of the sun at other times. Coaches can give talks and team meetings under a shelter or group of trees. (Be sure not to go too deep in the woods. We know teams that have had to forfeit because they got lost.)
Teammates waiting for their games to begin should sit in the shade rather than congregating on the bleachers under the blazing solar rays.
8) Mandatory Breaks and Rotating Players – On 100+ degree days, it’s essential to give players as many breaks as you can. A few minutes to cool off after a long inning in the field is a must. Pay extra attention to catchers, weighted down with those layers and padding. They’re especially at risk of heat exhaustion. This position should be rotated among players as much as possible.
9) Cold Packs – Keep a few gel ice packs in the dugout for players to hold against their wrists, necks and any area of the body where veins are close to the surface. This is a great way to cool down quickly.
Dynarex Instant Cold Packs – 24 count. $14.40 on Amazon.
10) Water Dense Fruits and Veggies – Trade in those sunflower seeds for wedges of oranges, watermelon, cantaloupe and strawberries. These healthy snacks help keep players hydrated and provide simple sugars to keep energy levels up.
11) Keep a Cool Head – Have players remove their caps while they’re in the dugout. This will release extra heat out the tops of their heads.
Got other tips for keeping it cool on the baseball field? Share them with us in the comments!