Some things come without surprise when Texas comes to mind: delicious barbecue, decadent cowboy boots, 10-gallon hats and grueling summer heat.

When summer practices begin on Aug. 1, water, electrolytes and overall hydration will be as important than the muscle players pack on before their team's official season opener.

And while rounding passing routes or missing tackling assignments may be a culprit of "taking a play off" or lack of effort, it may not be the case for every high school football hopeful. Information gathered from the Medline Plus government website, too, may tell a different story about the Bulldog, Indian, Eagle, Hawk, Jaguar, Mustang, Panther or Yellow Jacket wondering why his body isn't damp with sweat.

When a player reaches maximum dehydration, he or she can experience one of three illnesses: heat cramps, muscle pains or spasms that happen during heavy exercise; heat exhaustion, a precursor to heat stroke; or heat stroke, a life-threatening illness in which an athlete's core temperature rises above 106 degrees in minutes.

Medline Plus also stated the risk of heat stroke rises progressively when temperatures exceed 69.8 degrees with 50 percent humidity.

The Waxahachie Daily Light asked Waxahachie's Edrian "E.J." Hairston and Midlothian Heritage's Greg Goerig, two high school athletic trainers with more than 15 years of combined experience, pressing questions that could keep your child out of harm's — and dehydration's — way.

1. How important is hydration during summer practices?

Hairston: Hydration is important at all times. It is monitored more during summer and early fall practices due to equipment and the hotter climate.

Goerig: It's extremely important — not only during the summer but at all practices year round. Proper hydration is not only important for preventing heat illnesses but also preventing sports injuries. For example, our muscles are made up of 75 percent water, so dehydration can play a role in the susceptibility to muscle strains.

2. How much water is needed to fuel the body during times of peak heat?

Hairston: There is no magic number of ounces to fuel the body. The important thing is to hydrate throughout the day. Waiting to drink water during practice is too late.

Goerig: Athletic trainers follow the guidelines below for hydration recommendations and through them, care for players with the best possible practices.

3. How does humidity play in as a factor with heat in terms of hydration?

Hairston: Humidity keeps moisture in the air, which prevents our sweat from evaporating and cooling the body. Higher humidity may require more consumption of fluids and/or electrolytes.

Goerig: High humidity hinders the body’s ability to cool itself because it keeps sweat from evaporating as easily. This can lead to heat illnesses such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion and exertional heat stroke.

4. Can players decrease the amount of water needed during cloudy days? Is that a misnomer that people need less water when it's "cooler" during the summer?

Hairston:  It does not matter the temperature, a player can dehydrate at any time, no matter the climate.

Goerig: Regardless of the environment, people need to stay hydrated. You may not lose as much fluid on cooler days, but we still recommend 2-3 liters of water for “non-active days.

5. Is it just water the body needs or is it other things?

Hairston: The body needs water, but it also needs electrolytes, protein, as well as other nutrients.

Goerig: We advocate the use of sports drinks, as they contain electrolytes our body needs to function. However, we recommend the ratio of one part sports drink for every two parts water for athletes.

6. How can players busy with practice launch a preemptive strike against dehydration before the athletic trainers step into the picture?

Hairston: They can start the day with water at breakfast, and drink water throughout the day and eat balanced meals. Take advantage of breaks at practice. Find shade, use cold towels, drink fluids. Eat a good meal after practice. 

Goerig: Athletes need to address hydration before practice with the guidelines we set forth. If an athlete were to wait until after practice to “catch up” and rehydrate, it will be an uphill battle.

For athletes who are about to start Two-A-Day practices within the next few weeks, we recommend stepping up their hydration game now. If an athlete were to experience any heat illness or issues once Two-A-Days start, their bodies will have a very difficult time catching up.

7. How can they easily identify signs of dehydration and combat it?

Hairston: Do not wait until you are thirsty to start drinking fluids. It is too late. You are already dehydrated. Monitor the color of your urine. The darker the urine the more dehydrated you are.

Goerig: Signs of dehydration include headache, fatigue, decreased endurance, thirst, disorientation, irritability, rapid pulse, and exhaustion. Another tell-tale sign of dehydration is the color of urine. Dark urine is an indication of dehydration, the lighter color it is, the better.

If any of those signs or symptoms arise, we encourage an increase of fluid intake.

8. What are the proper cooling habits to prevent or treat heat stroke?

Hairston:  Proper hydration and proper diet will play a huge role in preventing any heat illness. Making sure the student athletes understand they need to be vocal and let my staff know if they are not feeling well. If this is the case, we must move the student athlete to a shaded area and make sure they are hydrating.

At this point, we will get a core temperature and utilize water, and/or bags of ice to bring down the core temperature. During practices this summer, will utilize cold water sponges during practices and cold tubs after practices, should we need them.

At this point, we will get a core temperature and utilize water, and/or bags of ice to bring down the core temperature. During practices this summer, will utilize cold water sponges during practices and cold tubs after practices, should we need them.

Goerig: There are a lot of things that can be done to prevent heat illnesses. Firstly, athletes need to acclimatize to heat gradually.

For example, if an athlete expects to participate in football practices in August, they should be spending some time outside throughout the summer so that the heat experienced in August is not as much of a shock to their body. Physical activity should take place during the cooler times of day such as early morning and evening.

We encourage lots of breaks during physical activity on hotter days for a chance to rehydrate and cool off. Clothing also plays an important role, athletes should wear light weight fabric that wicks away sweat easily.

9. Why should those that have had heat stroke before be identified?

Hairston: It shows those student-athletes are at high risk of suffering from a heat illness again. There is a reason it happened the first time. We, as athletic trainers, as well as coaches need to be able to readily identify these kids and make every effort to educate them on how to take care of themselves in hot climates. 

Goerig: Those who have had a heat stroke before may be more susceptible to heat illness in the future, so we like to keep an eye on those who have had issues with that before. In our setting, it is even more important to supervise those who are returning to physical activity in the few days or weeks following heat exhaustion or heat cramps so as to avoid another heat illness.

----   Marcus S. Marion is the sports editor of the Waxahachie Daily Light and Midlothian Mirror. He can be reached by phone at (469) 517-1456 or across social media platforms @MarcusSMarion.