Chargers deal with hot weather as 2005 preseason practice commences
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Hillsdale, Mich. — Sweat pours off a football player's forehead like a miniature dam. Clenched fists tug on the bottom of shorts, searching for support of a body that is closing in on exhaustion. A mid-afternoon sun beats down mercilessly, only adding to the oppressive practice atmosphere.
Scenes like this one are very common across the country this time of year, as football teams at all levels begin their preparations for the 2005 season. It's the same here at Hillsdale College, where head coach Keith Otterbein and his coaching staff will instruct 99 players in the philosophy and practice of Charger football over the next three weeks, leading up to the season-opening game at the University of Indianapolis Aug. 27.
Pre-season practices have long been dreaded by players for the tough conditioning drills and the unending heat that this time of year comes with. But many new precautions have been implemented by the NCAA, and by some individual programs, to protect players from the elements in these early weeks of practice.
Teams cannot conduct back-to-back two-a-day practices anymore. There is also a staggered system in place for how players are dressed for early-season practices.
The first two days, players can only wear helmets with T-shirts and shorts. The second two days, shoulder pads can be added. Only on the fifth day of workouts, can players practice in full football gear. Plus, there has to be a minimum of three hours of recovery time in place for players between practice sessions.
Chargers head coach Keith Otterbein said he likes the precautions the NCAA has put in place.
"We had a scare here a couple years ago, of some guys who had trouble with the heat," he said. "It saves on the physical wear and tear the guys might be experiencing those first couple days back. A lot more of our practice planning goes into taking the heat into account than it ever had before."
With the Summer of 2005 going down as one of the hottest on record, the heat is a constant issue surrounding these early-season practices. This week, temperatures are forecast to be above 90 degrees every day.
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