Playing sports on a wet field can be an Athletic Director‘s nightmare. Sure, some of your students might be excited about the chance to slide around on the mud, but you know better. Not only does using a soggy field damage your existing sod, but it can also injure your student athletes.
Now, you might think: “Gee, one day of rain can’t really hurt them,” and you‘re not entirely wrong. A quick rain shower or sprinkle surely won’t do any serious damage to your field or your players.
We‘re talking about seriously wet fields. Like the fields in North and South Carolina that just experienced anywhere from 20 to 30 inches of rain thanks to Hurricane Florence. Or some of the fields in the Northeast that are still trying to recover from what seems like weeks of rain.
Wet Field Injuries
Keep reading to review the three most common ways a wet field can endanger your student athletes and what you and your coaching staff can do to mitigate these risks.
1. Impact Injuries
The first way a wet field can injure your student athletes is by causing impact injuries. Like we mentioned before, some students love slipping around in the mud when playing sports like soccer. But that slide tackle can become extremely dangerous in the mud because your athlete won’t be able to stop as quickly as normal.
Slippery wet fields and muddy fields are the perfect environment for your student athletes to collide with each other, the opposing team, or any items on or near the field. These impacts can cause injuries like bruises, concussions, and even more serious head and bodily injuries.
To avoid these types of injuries, we recommend a few different things.
First of all, warn your student athletes about the condition of the field before you bring them onto it. If you have a game scheduled, tell them the risks associated and get them to understand that they should avoid activities like slide tackling. It’s also a good precaution to let student athletes know turning and changing direction might be more difficult and slippery so they can adjust their style of play.
If you only have a practice schedule for a wet field, we recommend taking your student athletes indoors instead. Have them lift weights, watch film, or practice skills in a gym. This will not only help prevent injuries but will also decrease the risk of compaction on your fields. If you absolutely need to go out onto the field for a game or practice, make the area safer for your athletes by removing benches, garbage cans, and other items near the playing surface. Or, practice in the middle of the field, far from these types of hazards.
2. Sprained Ankles
The second common athletic injury because of a wet field is a sprained ankle. As we mentioned when we talked about impact injuries above, changing speed and direction is a lot harder on a slippery surface. This can cause sprained ankles, especially if your student athletes haven’t warmed up properly.
Sprained ankles are so common on wet, slippery fields because these surfaces but stress on muscles and tendons in the feet and ankles. Lots of times, these injuries happen when student athletes try to turn or cut on slippery or muddy surfaces. On the other hand, it‘s good to know dry fields lead to more fixation type injuries that tear ligaments in the ankle or knee.
To prevent sprained ankles, we again recommend keeping your student athletes off of a wet field. If you must go on the field for a game or important practice, give ankles a proper stretch to avoid injury. Have athletes perform ankle circles, calf and shin raises, and other simple exercises that stretch and strengthen the area. If you have student athletes who already have weak or compromised ankles, ensure they are taped properly by your school‘s athletic trainer.
Finally, a wet field can really tire your student athletes out. This is because it requires more strength to run and perform athletic activities on a wet field. It costs a student athlete more energy to run and change direction on a wet field because the slippery or muddy surface gives a little. In sports like field hockey, football, and soccer, this will lead to your student athletes feeling tired more quickly than normal. Their legs will most likely feel heavy and it will be harder on their entire body. This will mean your coaches will have to use substitutions or time outs quicker than usual.
This also presents a more serious problem on hot or humid rainy days. When your students’ bodies are working harder, it adds to heat stress. Wet fields can make it easier for students to suffer from heat related illnesses like dehydration, muscle cramps, and even exertional heat stroke (EHS).
To avoid these types of injuries, make sure you give your students access to water at all times and even more breaks than usual. You should observe these precautions even if your students are well acclimated to the heat already.
Don’t Slip Up on Weather Safety
Rain and wet fields are just some problems Mother Nature can throw at your athletic department. There are plenty of other dangerous weather like heat, lightning, and wind that can injure student athletes at your school.
You can’t afford to slip up with severe weather safety for your student athletes. The best way to protect them and everyone else on campus is to know what the weather is and what it will be like at your exact location.
Having a school weather station can mean all the difference for your student athletes well-beings. Give your athletic department a winning record by researching what a school weather station and school weather alerts could do for your students, staff, and visitors.
Fill out the form below to find out more about a school weather station.
How Do You Protect Student Athletes from the Dangers of a Wet Field?
We gave some recommendations in this post for protecting student athletes, but we’re sure we didn’t cover everything! Is this a problem you already deal with at your school? Let us know how you manage this issue at your campus below and we’ll feature you on our social media channels.