Hydration and Sports for Young Athletes

Warm humid weather and intense high school sports practices lead to a lot of sweating and risk of heat exhaustion or more serious heat stroke. While hydration may not be at the top of the list for a successful athletic performance, it should be. According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, appropriate hydration before, during, and after physical activity is an important ingredient to a healthy and successful sports team.

Tips to Prevent Dehydration

It’s of key importance to hydrate well, both for safety and performance. Here are some tips to educate athletes and the coaching staff, as well as parents to safeguard against heat illnesses:

• Athletes cannot simply rely on thirst to maintain hydration. Instead, a schedule for hydration before, during, and after practice or games may be more helpful.

• Weighing the athlete before and after the practices, since proper hydration will show no- or minimal- weight change from practice.

• An example hydration schedule for a high school athlete could be: drinking 16 ounces of fluid two hours before physical activity, drinking another 8-16 ounces 15 minutes before physical activity, and during physical activity, drinking 4-8 ounces every 20 minutes. After physical activity, drinking 16-24 ounces of fluid for every pound lost during physical activity.

• Athletes will continue to lose fluid after practice as they continue to cool their core body temperature and urinate. Using urine color as a measure for hydration status can be really helpful. Bold yellow urine to dark yellow or apple juice colored urine signifies dehydration. Athletes should aim to start every practice fully hydrated.

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