UIL Heat Stress Guidelines Explained (2024/2025)

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UIL Heat Stress Guidelines Explained (2024/2025)

Published
May 20, 2024
Written by
Saba Arif

Introduction
The UIL (University Interscholastic League) has recommended new Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) guidelines to prioritize student-athlete safety in Texas schools. If you’re confused about the latest heat stress recommendations, we’re here to help. 

Here’s the skinny on all you need to know about the UIL WBGT recommendations and what you can do to meet them. We’ll break down the key changes, WBGT monitoring methods, and practical solutions to keep your athletes safe.

UIL Guidelines

Latest UIL Wet Bulb Globe Temperature Recommendations

The 2024-2025 UIL WBGT revised recommendations are a giant leap forward in protecting student-athletes from heat illnesses like Exertional Heat Stroke. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends these new WBGT heat protocols, which establish specific thresholds for practice intensity based on heat stress levels.

As of the 2024-2025 school year, the UIL WBGT guidelines are currently recommendations,  giving schools a chance to get comfortable with WBGT monitoring. However, the UIL is considering mandating these guidelines in the 2025-2026 school year after gathering feedback from schools. This pilot year allows schools to learn the ropes and ensure a smooth transition to the future mandate. The latest changes concern the following:

  • The scheduling of practices at appropriate WBGT levels – ensuring practices occur during cooler times when the risk of heat illness is lower.
  • The ratio of workout time to time allotted for rest and hydration at various WBGT levels.

Learn more about Wet Bulb Globe Temperature here.

Key Takeaways from the UIL Heat Stress Protocols

The revised UIL guidelines include several mandates and recommendations. Here are the key takeaways for schools from the revised UIL WBGT recommendations:

2024- 2025 UIL Heat Stress Protocol Mandates:

  1. Cooling Zones are Now a Must:
    • All schools must have an emergency plan to prevent heat illnesses. The plan must include ways to cool athletes quickly on-site. This can be with cold water immersion tubs or tarps with ice. The plan must also have cooling zones where the WBGT is 80°F or higher.

    • Cooling zones must have cold-water immersion options for rapid cooling. Consider using shade, water misters, towels, and ice sponges for further cooling. Ideally, a trained person should be available to administer with cold-water immersion.

  2. Staying Hydrated is Key: Coaches must provide unlimited access to water throughout practice. Rest breaks should focus on rehydration and rest only, with no activity.

2024 – 2025 UIL Heat Stress Recommendations:

WBGT practice guidelines and limitations do not apply to UIL competitions, but it is recommended that schools monitor WBGT conditions prior to and during the game and use appropriate emergency action plans for high temperature and humidity.

Monitor & Record WBGT Conditions: 

  1. Schools are suggested to use a scientifically proven method, like a weather station or a weather monitoring mobile app, to monitor the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT).
  2. Keep a record of the WBGT temperatures for all outdoor practices.
  3. WBGT readings should be taken every 30 minutes during practice.
  • Practices Not Games: These heat protocols apply only to practice sessions and workouts, not to games. 
  • Practice means any coach-led, school-approved sport or band conditioning activity. This includes the time from when they arrive at the practice area to when they leave.
  • While the WBGT practice guidelines do not apply to UIL competitions, schools should still monitor WBGT during competitions and have heat emergency plans for high temperatures.

Competition Recommendation Modifications:

  • Cooling Zones: Competitions with WBGT 80°F or higher require a cooling zone for rapid full-body cooling in case of heat illness.
  • Change start times to allow participation in the best conditions possible.
  • Access to air-conditioned gyms or locker rooms until warmups begin.
  • Proper Hydration: Plan hydration and snacks for athletes on long bus rides before games.
  • Provide unlimited cool water during games and practices. Energy drinks are not allowed. Fans/Misters to allow for evaporative cooling.
  • More breaks: Consider adding short cooling breaks during games for everyone to rehydrate and cool down.
  • Longer halftime: Extend halftime to allow more time to cool down, rehydrate, and refuel.
  • Offer healthy snacks at halftime for athletes to refuel.
  • For middle school games, consider shortening quarters if both schools agree.

What Do the UIL Recommendations Mean For Texas Schools?

The latest UIL recommendations are a game-changer for athlete safety in Texas schools, but meeting these new recommendations can be confusing and overwhelming. Luckily, we’ve got you covered. Here’s how the new guidelines impact Texas schools:

WBGT is The New Standard

Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) was approved as the preferred standard of heat stress measurement by the UIL in 2023.

WBGT is already the standard in states like Georgia, California, Iowa, and Florida, and is widely used by the Army and the Marines. With this data, coaches can adjust practices based on real-time heat levels.

  • Practice Gets Smarter, Not Harder: The UIL guidelines recommend adjusting practice intensity based on WBGT. As WBGT rises, expect shorter practice times with increased rest and hydration breaks. 
  • Reduced Risk of Heat Illness: Proper hydration and cooling measures during practices will help athletes recover faster, feel better, and perform at their peak. This will help them recover faster, stay cool, and perform at their peak.

This webinar from 2023 dives into the impact of the UIL recommendations on Texas schools.

Alright, What Do I Need To Do Next?

Even though the guidelines are currently recommendations, prioritizing athlete safety should always be the top concern. Implementing these protocols can help prevent heatstroke and create a safer training environment for everyone. So now that you know what the recommendations are, here’s how you can comply with them.

How Do I Follow The UIL Recommendations?

The UIL understands that every school has unique needs and resources. That’s why these WBGT recommendations are designed to be flexible. There are many scientifically proven methods for monitoring Wet Bulb Globe Temperature, allowing you to choose the solution that best protects your student athletes. Here’s a breakdown of the most popular WBGT monitoring methods:

Handheld WBGT Monitor

These dedicated WBGT monitoring instruments provide quick readings. Although a convenient starting point, these devices are prone to inaccuracies and can impact athletic activities.

Read more about handheld WBGT devices here.

Free Weather Apps

Free weather apps like WeatherBug can seem like a quick and easy solution, but they generally source weather data that is delayed by several minutes and are often inaccurate.

Read more about free apps here.

Weather Stations

Automated weather stations like Perry Weather offer the most accurate and reliable solution. Weather stations provide real-time WBGT readings and eliminate manual calculations.

This helps schools comply with the UIL’s recommendations for practice modifications (WBGT thresholds, cooling zones) and minimize the risk of penalties.

Why Choose Perry Weather to Meet the UIL WBGT Recommendations?

Perry Weather goes beyond basic weather stations, offering features specifically designed for athlete safety and UIL compliance:

  • WBGT Precision with Black Bulb Sensor: Perry Weather’s secret weapon? Accuracy. How are our weather stations so accurate? Because our weather stations go beyond basic models, and feature a 3.5-inch black bulb sensor for the most precise WBGT readings.
  • Historical Data Tracking: Analyze past WBGT trends to plan practices and identify potential heat risks. Historical data tracking allows you to analyze past trends and identify potential heat risks.  No more scrambling!  Plan practices like a pro knowing past WBGT patterns.
  • Unlimited Location Monitoring: Track WBGT at every practice location, so you have the data you need to keep athletes safe regardless of the field.
  • No Calibration Needed: Forget manual calibration headaches. Perry Weather stations provide instant readings, allowing you to focus on your athletes. 
  • Automated Alerts: Receive real-time warnings when WBGT reaches critical levels, allowing you to adjust practices for athlete safety. Respond quickly to changing weather conditions with automated alerts.
  • Expert Support: Our team of meteorologists is here to help you understand WBGT data and implement effective school heat safety protocols.

With Perry Weather, Texas schools can comply with UIL regulations and simplify the WBGT monitoring.

Conclusion 

The new UIL heat protocols are a win-win for everyone. Athletes stay safe, coaches can train effectively, and parents have peace of mind. Investing in reliable WBGT monitoring solutions like Perry Weather can help Texas schools create a safer training environment for athletes and ensure a successful season. 

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