It’s 1p and you’ve got practice in a few hours. It’s either already super hot outside or been rainy all day without much hope for relief. The fields, however, are still open and available. Do you cancel practice?

This is a very situational and nuanced decision. I will say that, generally speaking, I never cancel practices for:

  • Heat
  • Light/moderate rain

Why? Well, basically because they’re expected to play under these conditions, so you might as well practice in them.

Dealing with the Heat

Just because you practice doesn’t mean you have the exact same type of practice. Look at it as a challenge to help make it fun:

  • Work on some skills you likely wouldn’t otherwise focus on that are not strenuous. Think of things like penalty kicks, DFKs, throwins, finishing skills (from crosses, bouncing balls, etc), chest/thigh trapping, etc
  • Incorporate more games than you might normally, it will take their mind off the heat
  • Make it really fun: Bring squirt guns and a cooler of ice water they can use at breaks. Have someone bring popsicles for afterwards. I caution against water balloons as they tend to leave a mess

Dealing with the Rain

Light rain and cold is generally more of an issue for parents than for the players. It’s actually nice to play and run around and never get overheated. There is very little reason to change your practice plans. Anything the players would be doing they would have to be doing anyway during a rainy game with a wet field/ball, so they might as well experience it in practice before the game. Some other things that help:

  • Make sure the parents know not to have them wearing any cotton. Many times parents will dress players in a long sleeve shirt under their jersey. If it’s anything other than dri-fit material it just compounds the issue
  • Have them bring a dry towel in their bag they can wipe their faces off with at breaks
  • Have them wear a windbreaker/nylon-style jacket instead of a sweatshirt. Sweatshirts will just soak up the water
  • Bring an ez-up where they can put their bags to stay dry
  • This is a great opportunity for a visit to a pizza place afterwards for a slice and video game with the team

Communication is Key

I find that as long as you are proactive with your communication, it tends to not be much of an issue. Worst case, if there is a parent that doesn’t feel comfortable heading out in the heat or rain, that’s fine too. Here’s what I try to follow:

  • A text in the morning (before school) letting them know you’re watching the weather and at what time will you be confirming or cancelling practice
  • A followup text at your stated time. If practice is ON, communicate the logistics I recommend above.
  • If you cancel practice, also delete the calendar entry on the website and send an email update

As with anything use your best judgment. I just hope that next time you’ll consider all options instead of just cancelling your precious time with your players because of less than ideal conditions.