While sports drinks and juices can provide hydration, water is still the healthiest option to keep your child hydrated throughout the day, particularly on game day.
Research has shown that adolescents and teens get less water than any other age group. This is mostly due to their access to drinks such as soda. To avoid dehydration, it is vital for your young athletes to consume water throughout their day.
One of the most important functions of water is to cool the body. When a young athlete exercises, their muscles generate heat and their body temperature rises. As their bodies get hot, they sweat, and their sweat evaporates as they cool down. This is what causes them to lose fluids, and the athlete will need to replace the fluids lost through sweating by drinking the adequate amount of water. If not, they upset their body’s water balance and become at risk of becoming overheated and dehydrated.
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends drinking four to eight ounces of water every fifteen to twenty minutes of exercise as a good starting point for hydrating athletes.
The ACSM provides the following guidelines for the maintenance of optimal hydration:
- Before Exercise: 16-20 ounces within the two-hour period prior to exercise.
- During Exercise: 4-8 ounces every 15-20 minutes during exercise.
- Post Exercise: Replace 24 ounces for every one pound of body weight lost during exercise.
Parents and coaches must ensure that their young athletes are drinking enough fluids throughout the day. Adequate hydration is essential to the performance of any athlete at any age. Here is an easy guide sheet to making sure your child is drinking enough water on game day. The recommended daily amount of fluids according to age is:
5 glasses (1 liter) for 5 to 8 year old’s
7 glasses (1.5 liters) for 9 to 12 year old’s
8 to 10 glasses (2 liters) for 13+ years
Before the game/practice
Drinking fluids before the big game or practice will lessen the risk of dehydration. Have you child have a good meal that also contains fluids like fruits.
- 1 – 2 hours before game/practice: 4 to 8 ounces of cold water
- 10 – 15 minutes before game/practice: 4 to 8 ounces of cold water
During the game/practice
Most kids wait until timeouts or breaks. But if they feel really thirsty, they should pause and drink anytime they feel so thirsty that it cannot wait.
Every 20 minutes: 5 to 9 ounces of water, depending on weight
- 5 ounces for a child weighing 88 pounds
- 9 ounces for a child weighing 132 pounds
Remember to adjust water intake based on the weather. Extreme cold or extreme heat can change your child’s hydration needs. Be cautious that your kid does not over-drink as it may cause hyponatremia.
After the game/practice
To help the body recover from exercise, drinking water post-game will help correct any lost fluids during the game or practice. Remember that your child doesn’t just lose fluids through sweat but also through urination.
To get your child to drink more water, particularly before, during, or after a game, try to not make sports drink or juices an option or available to them. Kids tend to prefer these sugary drinks; however, water is still best to fulfill their hydration needs. So remember to always have cold water ready!