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Keep Young Athletes Hydrated

By Jack Carter MS, CSCS*D, NSCA*CP, supervisor at The Health Club and certified personal trainer.

Young athletes train hard, play to win and sweat through it all. With football two-a-days, softball and soccer starting up, it’s critical to know your opponent and not just the other team. Dehydration is a nasty competitor that takes no prisoners and doesn’t care what color jersey you are wearing.

Proper hydration is critical to performance. In fact, fluid losses as little as 2 percent of body weight (2.5 pounds in a 125 pound athlete) can impair performance by increasing fatigue. Weight loss in a high school football game can be anywhere from 3 to 6 percent (5 to 8 pounds) of body weight.

 It’s easy to see that especially in summer with the Oklahoma heat, if athletes don’t consume enough fluids and rehydrate, their performance will diminish, cramping can occur and there is an increased risk for injuries. What can you do to help your child fight dehydration?

Here are a few tips to help your kids through the dog days of summer and maintain peak performance throughout the season.

  • Remember to drink proper fluids throughout the day like water or low calorie Gatorade.
  • Athletes should aim for at least 16 ounces of fluid two hours before competition or practice. Another 8 ounces or one cup should be consumed around 20 to 30 minutes prior to competition or practice.
  • Keep hydrated during the competition or practice. Sport drinks are great during competition. They help fight off dehydration and cramping by replenishing fluids and electrolytes which are lost in sweat.
  • Keep drinking fluids even after a game or practice to help the body recover.
  • Amino acid or protein mixed in a carbohydrate drink is essential, and helps increase glycogen synthesis in the body, which allows for higher work capacity during the end of the game or when playing multiple games in one day.

Well informed coaches and parents understand how crucial keeping hydrated is for on-the-field performance. Keeping hydrated with water is vital, but that is only the start. During competition, having a carbohydrate/protein drink solution helps keep energy levels high and those nagging fatigue injuries to a minimum.

Jack Carter MS, CSCS*D, NSCA*CP is a supervisor at The Health Club and certified personal trainer. The Health Club, located in Brookhaven Square, is a wellness center that features cardio equipment, strength training, fitness classes and more. It is owned by Norman Regional Health System. Call (405) 329-5050 for more information.

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