The athletes playing football in this extreme heat must think seriously about pre-hydration. Coaches, captains and parents must encourage the players to increase fluid intake and be well hydrated by drinking before, during and after practices.

The athlete who begins exercise with less than the normal amount of body fluid runs the risk of adverse reactions to the cardiovascular system, body temperature regulation and performance during a practice or game. Athletes playing football can lose as much as 10 quarts of fluid during the sweat rate each day. Large losses of sodium and chloride occur when one sweats. These must be replaced during the practice sessions from day to day.

The athletes should begin their strength training exercise conditioning before going out for the preseason practices. This helps them become acclimated to warm weather. If one begins to exercise dehydrated, this will create the risk of heat illness and poor performance.

The athlete should get into the habit of drinking at least 16 ounces of fluid in the evening before retiring and another 16 ounces upon awakening in the morning to maintain fluid balance. It is important to drink 16 to 32 ounces one hour before and another 16 ounces about 20 minutes before training sessions start. One may get into the method of weighing oneself before and after exercise to make sure one has enough fluid to prevent dehydration.

At times, with heavy

sweating, fluids that contain carbohydrates and small amounts of sodium chloride will be helpful in fluid and mineral replacement during the practices or competition. If the athlete has the slightest sign of thirst, this is a warning sigh of dehydration and possible heat illness. Drink at least 8 ounces every 15 minutes to replace fluid loss and 24 to 36 ounces for every pound of weight loss after exercise.

Dr. Robert Weiss, a sports podiatrist, was a member of the Medical Advisory Committee of the 1984 and the 1988 Olympic Trials. Weiss, a Fairfield-native, has a practice in Darien. For information, visit his Web site at www.therunningdoctor.net.