If your team has a hefty travel schedule and you regularly compete in cities that are more than 3,000 feet above sea level, you may be concerned about how to ensure your sea-level-dwelling athletes are prepared for the higher altitudes. The good news is that you can mitigate some of the potential negative effects of altitude for your athletes so that they can focus on the game and not the thinner air. TrueSport Expert Kristen Ziesmer, a registered dietitian and board-certified specialist in sports dietetics, explains what you can do to ensure your athletes are prepared for altitude.
Know your altitude
Most destinations for travel sport teams won't be at altitudes that will really affect your athletes' performance, says Ziesmer. But anything over 3,000 feet above sea level, such as Denver, Colorado, will start to shift their hydration and fueling needs, as well as their perceived exertion.
"Make sure your athletes are well-fueled and well-hydrated before they go," says Ziesmer. "That really goes for any type of competition, but it's especially important at altitude. Have them up their drinking game the week before, aiming to drink between 25 and 50 percent more than they normally would."
... And keep hydrating
"The same thing applies once you're at altitude: Athletes should aim to drink about 25 to 50 percent more than they would drink normally,” says Ziesmer. “They should adjust their fluid intake based on the color of their urine—it should ideally be a lemonade-like pale yellow—and their weight. If they're gaining weight, they can cut back on water, but if they're losing weight, they should drink more."