Cold Weather & The Game of Football

All eyes are on the Packers these days.  And of course, we've been dealing with winter's cold (beside the mid-January break!) In a recent study done by  ESPN, it was determined how much extreme cold can affect a player's body.

In one case, one man was put into an ice truck where the temperature was 10 degrees.  The person's body temperature was 99 degrees and his skin temperature was 72 degrees.  After 15 minutes, the skin temperature of his hands fell to 35 degrees, causing his grip strength to be reduced by more than half as his cardiovascular system began pumping less blood to his extremities. 

30 minutes into the experiment, his core temperature remained steady.  But it was determined his body began to burn glucose five times faster than in warm weather, leaving less energy for performance and reducing his reaction time by close to half.

So how do players deal with this?  Many add petroleum jelly and muscular rubs for additional warmth while others actually wear sterile gloves.  Another sure way to keep warm is to just keep moving.

The football is also impacted by the cold.  In fact, a football exposed to 10 degrees for one hour got slightly smaller, and its air pressure was reduced by one-fifth.  This causes the ball to come off a kicker's foot more slowly.  The sports analysts say punts travel an average of three yards less in cold weather games, while passing completion fell two percent.  The accuracy of field-goal kickers dropped by nearly two percent as well.

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