Everyone knows that it’s important to drink enough water, but it’s especially important for athletes, particularly young athletes. Youth hockey players need to make sure they are adequately hydrated before they play or practice, during their games and practices, and after as well. There are many potentially negative effects to not being hydrated. These can include:
l Reduced athletic performance
l Increased recovery time after injury or strain
l Risk of severe dehydration, which can lead to serious health problems, especially if sustained for long periods of time
While you might think your players are drinking enough water, a recent survey, performed with researchers connected to the NHL, found that the vast majority of youth players show up to games somewhat dehydrated. To make matters worse, they can lose up to a liter and a half of fluid during the course of the game. Fluid loss was even more pronounced in goalies, and in addition to fluid, players in the study tended to lose salt as well. The scariest finding of all was that many of those players who showed up to games adequately hydrated tended to become dehydrated by the time the game was over.
With inadequate hydration being such an obvious problem among youth hockey players, it’s time for coaches to step up and attend to their players’ health, wellbeing, and performance. In order to keep players hydrated, safe, and performing to their full capabilities, a few basic tips should be followed:
l Encourage players to drink at least 20oz of water before participating in a game or a practice.
l Provide healthy, hydrating alternatives to water, such as sports drinks that contain sodium and electrolytes.
l Have plenty of water and/or sports drinks on hand and freely available to players before, during, and after games and practices.
l Encourage players to avoid dehydrating caffeinated beverages, such as sodas and energy drinks.
l Encourage players to drink healthy drinks consistently throughout the day. This will enable players to maintain consistent hydration and is a better, safer choice than loading up on water and other beverages right before physical activity.
If you can instill these habits in your hockey players, you’ll be rewarded with healthy, high performing athletes.