As a coach or parent, you probably know that hydrated athletes generally perform and feel better than dehydrated ones.
But, do you know just how important hydration for youth athletes really is? And do you know exactly when a lack of fluids begins to negatively impact how they play and perform?
WHEN A LACK OF FLUIDS AFFECTS ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE
Research shows that when an athlete loses more than 2% of their body weight, their athletic performance drastically decreases.
You obviously won’t be able to weigh your athletes in the middle of games to be able to determine this, so it’s important to be able to recognize the symptoms of dehydration, which include:
- Dizziness and headaches
- Poor attention and decision making
- Fatigue earlier than usual
- Muscle cramps
- Vomiting and difficulty drinking liquids
All of these are signs that an athlete’s cardiovascular system is working harder than it has to, a problem that could be solved simply by upping their fluid intake.
Knowing these symptoms of dehydration is half the challenge. The other is setting hydration goals that will delay fatigue, optimize your athletes’ ability to regulate their body heat, satisfy thirst, and improve their ability to recover from training.
An individual hydration plan for each athlete might sound like overkill, but at the very least it’s important to be conscious of different athletes’ needs for fluids and to provide water breaks at the rate of your most dehydration-prone athlete.