Although body cooling has both performance and safety benefits, knowledge on optimizing cooling during specific sport competition is limited.
To identify when, during sport competition, it is optimal for body cooling and to identify optimal body-cooling modalities to enhance safety and maximize sport performance.
A comprehensive literature search was conducted to identify articles with specific context regarding body cooling, sport performance, and cooling modalities used during sport competition. A search of scientific peer-reviewed literature examining the effects of body cooling on exercise performance was done to examine the influence of body cooling on exercise performance. Subsequently, a literature search was done to identify effective cooling modalities that have been shown to improve exercise performance.
The cooling modalities that are most effective in cooling the body during sport competition depend on the sport, timing of cooling, and feasibility based on the constraints of the sports rules and regulations. Factoring in the length of breaks (halftime substitutions, etc), the equipment worn during competition, and the cooling modalities that offer the greatest potential to cool must be considered in each individual sport.
Scientific evidence supports using body cooling as a method of improving performance during sport competition. Developing a strategy to use cooling modalities that are scientifically evidence-based to improve performance while maximizing athlete’s safety warrants further investigation.
The authors are with the Korey Stringer Inst in the Dept of Kinesiology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT.