Don’t drink too much: hydration for athletes.

Ensuring proper hydration for student athletes is not as easy as you might think. The fluids and electrolytes in our bodies are balanced at very specific levels. A change as little as 1% creates physiologic changes that can decrease performance. While most athletes tend towards the side of not enough water, too much can be detrimental as well. Just like dehydration, hyperhydration can throws these delicate levels out of balance and some pretty nasty consequences; fatigue, nausea, vomiting, blurry vision, cramping, spasms, seizures, and even death in extreme cases.

Hydration Game Plan

Instead of teaching athletes to drink as much water as possible at all times, we can teach simple behaviors that promote healthy water intake before, during, and after activities. Check the links for great handouts made by the NCAA.

  • Carry a regular sized water bottle throughout the day.
    • This promotes regular hydrating and avoids over-hydration from “cramming” right before activities
  • Avoid sugary drinks and energy drinks
    • Be aware of the sugar content in sports drinks. While they may have electrolytes, the excess sugar can be a problem
  • Fruits and vegetables are great sources of water and have lots of vitamins and minerals (electrolytes)

On of the best ways to monitor your hydration status is to keep an eye on your urine color.

Urine color chart hydration

In addition to regular hydration, supplementary water consumption should be timed around practices and games.

WhenHow Much
Before exertion2 to 3 hours before: 16 ounces (about 1 water bottle)
15 minutes before: 8 ounces
During exertion4 ounces of fluid every 15 to 20 minutes (2 to 3 large gulps)
After exertion16 to 20 ounces of fluid for every pound lost
(1 to 1½ water bottles per pound lost)

Maximize performance

Proper hydration helps keeps athletes safer, not only in avoiding the dangers of dehydration, but also keeping them focused and at their peak performance. Proper focus and function can help keep them from being part of the increasing number of children with sports-relating injuries. Don’t let water keep kids out of the game. Just like other sports injuries, if you or your children are having any symptoms of dehydration/hyperhydration make sure to see a doctor right away.