As most high school football teams are either ending their regular season and hanging up the helmets, or narrowing their focus for a playoff run, the weather is becoming as bitter as those end of season rivalries every player has marked on their calendars.
If your team put the work in and grabbed a bid for the playoffs, you’ll not only be battling the man across from you, but mother nature as well.
Cold weather is one of the bittersweet elements of high school playoff football. On one hand, teams are happy to be there, on the other, there are 3 fingers that are frozen.
You might not be able to escape the wintry chill and elements completely, but we’ve put together some tips to help you brave it as you make your way to hoisting that state title above your head.
As the old adage goes, practice makes perfect. Although practice means nothing if it doesn’t mimic real time game situations. We’re talking about the cold. One of the best ways to alleviate the shock from frigid temps on game day is to acclimate with the cold beforehand.
Practicing in cold temperatures prior to game day allows your body and mind to become familiar with the feeling of working hard when the weather isn’t ideal. Both the mental and physical aspects are equally important, but the mental aspect might be the more difficult of the two. By exposing yourself to circumstances similar to those you’ll experience on game day, you get a much better idea of what to expect when the day comes.
One of the best ways to prepare is to practice in the same gear you plan to wear for the big game for every practice the week prior to the game. The same areas of the body will be exposed, the same amount of mobility will be present, and the body will begin to recognize the extra layers as normal. With your attention no longer on the extra layers or other cold-weather additions, you’ll have more attention freed up to focus on the game.
One pre-game cold weather tactic that is often overlooked, but is arguably the most important, is hydration. Drinking plenty of water, Gatorade, and Pedialyte the week before the game is imperative to prevent cramps in cold weather. When the temperatures are frigid, muscles lose heat and contract. This causes them to naturally be tighter, and more susceptible to damage. Additionally, lack of sweat can misguide players in thinking they aren’t losing fluids, when they are. Dehydration is a common cause of muscle cramps. When dehydration and cold weather are combined, it’s the perfect storm for cramps.
The obvious option for withstanding cold weather is to layer up, but for football players, this isn’t always the best option. Too many bulky layers will not only have you looking like Ralphy from the Christmas Story, but can actually hinder your mobility as well. The best bet is to use cold weather gear specifically engineered with the athlete in mind.
Some Xenith products our athletes prefer to help brave the cold are below:
Xenith Hand Warmer: It’s difficult to control the ball or grab onto an opponent when you’ve lost feeling in your fingers. The Xenith Hand Warmer has a fleece lining and hi-loft fibers that retain body heat. It even has a built-in utility pocket to store heat packs. It’s there for you when you need it, but low profile so it will stay out of the way when you’re ready to play.
Xenith Hudson Beanie: It’s a well-known fact that the body loses most of its heat through the head. The Xenith Hudson Beanie can be worn two ways: cuffed and snug or uncuffed and loose. It’s a no-brainer.
X-Camo Gaiter: Wearing a scarf isn’t feasible for in-game performance (or style). The gaiter is a much better option. With 4-way stretch fabric, the X-Camo Gaiter provides an extra layer of warmth without limiting your movement.
An additional trick to keeping warm during cold-weather games is to layer Vaseline on the arms underneath long sleeves and on the skin of the face. This reduces the chance of windburn and locks in heat by placing an additional layer between the skin and the frigid air. Be conscious not to overload on the Vaseline, as it can get slippery when over-applied.
Putting rubber gloves under regular football gloves is another way of adding a thin layer of warmth to shield from the cold. While many football players find this helps, it can potentially hinder grip and control of the ball. These two rely heavily on personal preference.
After extended hours of exposure to cold temperatures, the body and mind require greater attention to recovery than typical games. First thing’s first, warm up. Hop into some comfortable, dry clothes that will help return the body to an even temperature throughout. Xenith’s Foundation Collection is ideal for after a high-intensity, ice-cold game or practice.
Xenith Foundation Hoodie: This hoodie effortlessly combines style and warmth. Lined with fleece so soft, you won’t be able to wait to get into it.
Xenith Foundation Joggers: A matching pair with the Foundation hoodie, the set is the definition of comfort.
There is evidence that prolonged exposure to the cold can actually suppress the immune system. Sweating in cold weather only heightens this risk, making it absolutely necessary to prioritize recovery post-game. Supplementing Vitamin C and D is a tried-and-true way to give your immune system the boost it requires. Pairing each of these tactics with plenty of rest and hydration ensures you’ll be fully prepared to brave any cold-weather game that comes your way.