Skip to Content
July 17, 2017

Prepare Before The First Day of Practice

It is a problem Gary Premo has seen before: It’s the first day of football practice and a player is not properly prepared for the work or the weather and becomes dehydrated.

Licensed Athletic Trainers: Athletes Should Stay Active, Hydrated

It is a problem Gary Premo has seen before: It’s the first day of football practice and a player is not properly prepared for the work or the weather and becomes dehydrated.

“You cannot expect to be ready for football practice if you haven’t done anything very athletic for a month or more,” said Premo of ThedaCare Orthopedic Care and the licensed athletic trainer at Weyauwega-Fremont High School. “You need to prepare your body for the work ahead.”

Athletes need to stay active throughout the summer months, doing a mix of aerobic exercise and strength training, said Kayla Van Handel, a licensed athletic trainer with ThedaCare Orthopedic Care at ThedaCare Medical Center-New London.

“Some athletes just focus on the weight room, but you need to also be running, biking or doing another activity that increases your heart rate,” she said. “If you stay in good physical condition over the summer, you will do much better once practice begins.

Whether practices are inside or outside, Premo said athletes need to bring along plenty of water.

“You need to make sure you drink some water before you go and during practice grab a water break whenever you can,” he said. “Afterwards, keep drinking water.”

As for sports drinks, Premo said they are only a good choice if you are sweating a lot. “I would continue drinking water and not just rely on the sports drinks. They do have electrolytes, which are important, but drinking plain, cold water is usually enough,” he said.

When exercising outside, Van Handel said it is vital to know the signs of dehydration and how to respond. She said the things to look for are: increased thirst, dry mouth, dizziness, nausea, headache and decreased urine output. Dehydration can also cause some people to faint.

“If you suspect you are becoming dehydrated or see the signs in someone else, head for the shade or inside to where there is air conditioning and start drinking water,” Van Handel said. “If dehydration is not treated promptly, you can wind up in the emergency department getting fluids intravenously.”

Another tip for athletes is to start exercising outside at least a week before practices begin, Premo said.

“Their bodies need time to acclimate to the warmer temperatures outside vs. being inside and exercising,” he said. “Do not start out with a hard workout, but gradually work up to that. That preparation will help you get ready for practice.”  

For more than 100 years, ThedaCare™ has been committed to finding a better way to deliver serious and complex healthcare to patients throughout Northeast Wisconsin. The organization serves over 200,000 patients annually and employs more than 6,800 healthcare professionals throughout the region. ThedaCare has seven hospitals located in Appleton, Neenah, Berlin, Waupaca, Shawano, New London and Wild Rose as well as 32 clinics in nine counties. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving our specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a non-profit healthcare organization with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs as well as a foundation dedicated to community service.  The ThedaCare Regional Cancer Center in Appleton opened in February 2016.  For more information, visit or follow ThedaCare on Facebook and Twitter.