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Keeping High School football players cool

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It's day one of practice for the Westwood Warriors and there's a lot of excitement on the field.

"I had a hard time sleeping last night. I know a lot of the other guys couldn't go to bed. It's a great feeling being out here," said Westwood High School quarterback Bear Fenimore.

The senior says being outside during the morning hours makes practice even better.

"We have a lot of water breaks. Coaches and trainers walk around with water bottles. For us to get our conditioning and stuff in the morning instead of the afternoon when it's really hot, I think it benefits both us the players and the coaches."

This year, coaches at Westwood have done away with two-a-days and instead are holding one long practice starting at 7 a.m. Round Rock ISD has heat guidelines in place and practice time is capped at three hours a day.

"We really think that if we can keep them out of the heat, out of the most dangerous part of the day, really between 3 and 7, we're gonna be better off in the end. Our players will be fresh. They'll be able to compete at a high level," said coach Anthony Wood.

It's not just football players who are outside preparing for football season. Members of the Westwood High marching band are also getting in a lot of practice time, and all on the hot pavement. All students are told to drink plenty of water and encouraged to sit down and rest during breaks. That's comforting for parents to know, says Dan Fry.

"They know to hydrate, take care of themselves, lots of rest.

Coaches say staying hydrated while off the field is just as important. Players at Westwood are encouraged to drink at least a gallon of water a day after practice ends.

"We really want them to replenish their body as much as they can from the time practice is over to the time they get to practice the next day," Wood said.

It's a different way of thinking from years ago.

"I remember when we weren't allowed to have water. We had ice chips and salt tablets so it's changed a lot," said Fry.

But, Coach Wood believes forcing players to practice in the heat is not the way to toughen them up and he wants his players to be in the best shape possible when the season starts.

"Don't try to be tough, be smart."

Under UIL rules, after the first four days of practice, teams can practice twice a day, but on alternating days.

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