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Hydration for Young Athletes

By Jim Allivato, SafeSport Coordinator, 09/21/17, 4:45PM CDT


Dear Stallions Parents:

Ensuring all of our players are properly hydrated is going to be a main focus this season in safesport. Many parents tell their children to drink water during practices and games to “stay hydrated”, but what that implies is that their child came to practice or the game already hydrated. Past studies of hydration in young athletes found that 50% to 75% of child and adolescent athletes are already dehydrated before even beginning sports practice and competition.

Numerous studies have shown that hydration has a significant impact on an athlete’s performance. Therefore I am asking that you:

1. Have your player pre-hydrate prior to games and practices (12-16 oz. of water) approx. 1-2 hours before activity.

2. Have your player bring a water bottle with their name to every practice and game.

3. Provide your player with adequate rest and hydration in-between same day practices and/or games.

Please encourage your player to drink water during any exercise. Water should be their main source of hydration. While may prefer the flavor of sports drinks; it is important to remember that a 32oz. bottle of a sport drink contains about 200 calories. In most cases, plain water can get the job done without added calories or sugar.

Keep ‘em hydrated,

Jim Allivato, LAT, ATC
Safesport Coordinator
Chicago Stallions
Read more about the importance of hydration!  

Jim Allivato

Stallions SafeSport Coordinator

Effects of Fluid Loss on Athletic Performance

Ensuring our players are properly hydrated on and off the ice is critically important. Our athletes may not know the symptoms of dehydration, could mistakenly attribute them instead to physical exertion from playing hockey, or could also ignore the signs of extreme thirst because of their focus on the practice or game. For those reasons, it’s important to make sure we always have water easily accessible for them.

You will notice this year during practices that we will be having water breaks and encouraging our skaters to replenish the fluids they’re losing in, but also offer water breaks, and encourage our skaters to replenish their sweat-induced body-water deficits.

However, it’s not just during the practice or game that players and their families should be focused on hydration. Prehydration is an area everyone should be focused on as well. This is especially true for young athletes, as they are less likely to think of their thirst and rehydrate. In 2012, a researcher studying hydration in young athletes reported that 50% to 75% of child and adolescent athletes already are dehydrated before beginning sports practice and competition, thereby increasing the risk of further dehydration and its side effects during sport activity.

The most effective way to ensure hydration is to utilize pre-and post-exercise weight measurements to determine and replace fluid loss. In adult athletes, a loss of 2% of body weight due to dehydration has been shown to have detrimental effects on performance. In children, the negative effects of fluid loss begin to occur at a 1% decrease in body weight (for a 50lb athlete this is ½ lb)1.

--1 Hydration in Young Athletes, Today’s Dietitian, Vol. 17 No. 4 P. 28, April 2015 Issue--

Symptoms of Dehydration:

Symptoms of dehydration include:

  • Noticeable thirst
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Muscle cramping
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Dark yellow urine or no desire to urinate
  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Decreased performance.

Prevention of Dehydration

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends the following for children and adolescents to prevent dehydration:

  • Provide and promote consumption of readily accessible fluids at regular intervals before, during and after activity to minimize sweat-induced body-water deficits
    • 3 to 8 oz. every 20 minutes for 9-12 year-olds
    • Up to 34 to 50 oz. per hour for adolescents
  • Pre- and post-activity body weight measurements can provide more information for individual hydration needs.
  • Electrolyte-supplemented beverages that emphasize sodium may be warranted during long-duration (≥1 hour), repeated same-day sessions of strenuous exercise, sports participation (such as same-day games our tournaments), and hot weather.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends every child consumer 24 ounces of water for every pound lost after sports activity.

For more information on the effects of hydration on youth athletes, read these articles:

Hydration in Young Athletes, Today's Dietician, April 2015 Issue

Water Works: Staying Properly Hydrated is the Key to Good Athletic Performance, USA Hockey, 2014