Sports performance is not just about what you eat, but also what you drink. Having a hydration plan in place that meets the needs of your teen athlete will help them not only beat the heat, but their competition as well. Summer temperatures and humidity increase the importance of proper hydration, so now is a great time to put a plan in place that your teen can maintain through every season. When building a hydration plan for your child, keep it simple by remembering these three words: measure, minerals, and methods.
Measure,first, how much fluid your teen needs to drink per hour. To accurately measure how much fluid your athlete needs, they should weigh themselves with no clothes on just before a 60-minute workout. Next, track how much fluid they drink during the workout, then at the end of the hour, weigh again with no clothes. An athlete needs 16-20 ounces of fluid for every pound lost. Plus, do not forget to add in the fluid your teen consumed during the workout to calculate their hourly fluid needs.
The rate of water lost through sweat differs depending on the athlete and the type of activity they are participating in. Athletes competing in lower intensity sports in moderate temperatures may lose between 16-20 ounces per hour. With more intense exercise and hot, humid conditions, athletes may lose as much as 68-ounces or more of fluid per hour.
Minerals need replenished to maintain normal fluid balance. Water is the most important nutrient for our survival. However, after 60-90 minutes of hard, continuous effort, water alone is not sufficient. Sodium, chloride and potassium levels become depleted during longer or more intense workouts, and these minerals need to be replaced. These minerals, called electrolytes, help prevent cramping and maintain fluid balance, therefore sports performance will be effected if these electrolytes are in short supply.
Methods effective at replenishing electrolytes and keeping up with fluid needs include a combination of water and sports drinks. When used together the athlete’s total hydration needs are being met. Water alone does not replace the electrolytes lost through sweat, while a sports drink alone may result in the intake of too many carbohydrates. A mix of water and sports drink planned out over 60- minutes is a manageable approach to balancing fluid intake, replenishing electrolytes and increasing energy on the field through the gradual intake of carbohydrates.
Consuming 20-40 ounces of fluid per hour can seem overwhelming at first, therefore plan out a hydration routine. Hydration routines during exercise are seldom perfect, but the athlete that comes the closest is most likely to out perform the others. Here is an example of an easy way to establish a good hydration routine:
- A male athlete measures a 36-ounce fluid loss rate per hour.
- Divide the 36 ounces by 4 for every quarter hour.
- Therefore, every 15 minutes, he needs to consume 9 ounces of fluid to match his rate of loss.
- Water alone is sufficient for the first 60 minutes of exercise.
- After 60 minutes, the need to add electrolytes and take in some carbohydrate becomes more important.
- He has made a goal to drink 4 ounces of Gatorade and 5 ounces of water every 15 minutes of play.
- At practice and competition, he knows he needs to have 16 ounces of Gatorade to drink over the second hour and at least a 20-ounce bottle of water that can be refilled as needed.
When it comes to effective hydration just remember the three ‘M’ words: Measure, Minerals, and Methods. Applying these three words to a plan for hydration will keep your athlete focused and fueled to play their best.
Written by Niki Kubiak, RD, CSSD, Director of Nutrition and Health at Infinite Sports World
Led by Soccer Director Jeff Oksman our qualified training staff focuses on developing soccer players technically, tactically, physically and psychologically while encouraging creativity, decision making, leadership, teamwork and confidence in a fun and fast paced environment.
ISWSA is a US Club Soccer and US Youth Soccer affiliate.