This time of year the heat can be just as tough on your athletes as the 11 players lining up on the other side of the ball. The heat can lead to dehydration, which can lead to serious athletic disadvantages. Muscle contractions will begin to slow and weaken, causing your athletes to lose their optimal muscle function. This increases their chances of muscle pulls and strains.
It’s important for your athletes to know the importance of hydration and how to gauge their own hydration levels. There are a couple signs your athletes should use to gauge their hydration level:
- Urine color. Clear, light-colored urine indicates that the athlete is well hydrated.
- Fatigue, loss of appetite, flushed skin, heat intolerance, light-headedness, dark urine with a strong odor, and a dry cough indicate the athlete is dehydrated.
Tell your athletes not to use thirst as the gauge for hydration. Thirst usually kicks in when the body has lost 2% of its fluids. At this point, your athletes are already dehydrated.
It’s important to make fluid replacement a habit. Schedule time in practice to drink water, or fluid replacement drinks that help restore carbohydrates like Gatorade or Powerade.
Here are some guidelines to stick by for proper hydration:
Before Activity Hydration
- Drink fluids liberally up to one hour before activity.
- 10-15 minutes before activity: 16 oz.
During Activity Hydration
- Drink 4-8 oz. every 10-15 minutes.
After Activity Hydration
- Drink 24 oz. for every pound of weight lost.
As a side note, it’s also important to let your athletes know about the dehydrating effects of caffeine and alcohol.
Devan Moylan was a two-year starter at safety for the University of Iowa football team. As a walk-on, he earned his scholarship through his competitive drive and knowledge of the game. During his career at Iowa, Devan helped the Hawkeyes to four bowl games and a Big Ten Championship. He is the head coach for the Roman Lazio Marines football team and co-founder of All Season. All Season provides products and in-depth information for football, strength and conditioning, nutrition, and recruiting for football coaches, players, and parents.