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Thursday, 22 August 2013

Teach an Athlete to Drink

It amazes me that no matter the experience or level of competition that an athlete competes at you still must remind them to hydrate.  Proper hydration is one of the key components in athletic performance.  Dehydration not only effects the body physically but those physical side effects will effect you mentally as well.  Hydration does not start when you step into the dressing room or at the first water break, it is a continual ongoing process.  Think of your body as dam.  You need a water source coming in, a place for it to rest and somewhere for it to go.  The water you consume is like the river flowing into the dam, your body is the the reservoir, and the river flowing out is the water you lose through sweat and urination.  How well do the muscles work if they are not lubricated?  How will they receive the nutrients they need to perform?  Water is used throughout our bodies, we need make sure it has an ample supply.

If you are able carry a water bottle with you so that you can hydrate throughout the day. A 120 pound person should consume 8 - 8oz glasses of water each day if they have not exercised.  For every hour of exercise you should consume 16 oz or 2 cups of water.  It is important to hydrate before, during and after activity.  A good rule of thumb for during activity is to drink 1 to 1.5 tablespoons every 15-20 minutes. Continue to replenish after activity, for athletes who are losing excessive amounts of water replenish with the amount of weight lost during activity.  Yes, chocolate milk is a great post activity drink to help replenish liquid, protein and carbohydrates, I still recommend drinking water on top of that.

For coaches, parents, and trainers be on the lookout for the following as they are signs and symptoms of mild dehydration:

  • Dry, sticky mouth
  • Sleepiness or tiredness — children are likely to be less active than usual
  • Thirst - dulled with activity
  • Urine that is yellow or gold in colour
  • Decreased urine output — eight hours or more without urination for older children and teens
  • Few or no tears when crying
  • Dry skin
  • Headache
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Decreased mental awareness
Learning how to hydrate is an something that all coaches, parents, trainers and athletes must do to keep the body performing at its peak.  Your body is 60% water and requires it for many body processes.  Replenish your stores with glorious water.  Sport drinks should not be used by children and only in certain circumstances by adult athletes.  No one should be consuming energy drinks at all and definitely not as a means to hydrate.  As a coach schedule water breaks no more than 20 minutes apart and encourage your athletes to drink.  Parents should check with your children's schools to see if they can carry a water bottle with them, it is amazing how often they will take sips if it is sitting right there.  Athletes, it comes down to you, if you want to succeed you need to provide your body with its major nutrient, so grab a bottle of water and good luck in achieving your goals.

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