Are Your Young Athletes Staying Hydrated?

Keeping young athletes hydratedParents and coaches, it’s that time of year, soccer practice, baseball games, hot sticky weather. We as adults often do a poor job of staying hydrated ourselves, but what about the kids?

We all know that our bodies are made up approximately 70% water. Making sure your little athletes are staying hydrated can be a difficult task. Often children don’t recognize the sensation of thirst immediately and by this time they can by 1-2% dehydrated. This seemingly minimal decrease in hydration can affect physical and mental performance.

Signs and symptoms of dehydration can include muscle cramps, thirst, fatigue, light-headedness and a flushed face. If your child is experiencing any of these symptoms, allow them time to cool off in the shade, replenish their fluid and return to play with caution.

Dizziness, rapid pulse, headache, nausea, vomiting, loss of coordination or profuse sweating are often symptoms of a more serious condition, heat exhaustion. If your child is experiencing any of these symptoms the athlete should be removed from play immediately and checked out by a medical unit. Children with decreased physical fitness, medical conditions such as diabetes, or non-optimal body weight or taking medication may be more susceptible to heat related illness.

Also take into consideration the type of sport, amount of sports equipment required and the environment. Despite the cold, even your little hockey stars can become dehydrated quickly.

Tips to keep your young athletes hydrated

– Encourage children to drink 6-12 oz every 20 minutes, even if they don’t feel thirsty.
– Replace each pound of fluid lost with 20-24oz of fluids.
– For activities 1 hour or tournament days with multiple games, a solution containing electrolytes should be consumed.
– Dilute a pre-made sport drink 1:1, water to sports drink, or see below for a natural alternative to commercial sports beverages.
– Avoid fruit juices and pop or other carbonated beverages. These may increase gastrointestinal upset. Caffeine and energy drinks can have negative effects on performance as well as physiologic effects such as increased heart rate, blood pressure, heart palpitations, tremors and altered sleep patterns.
– Allow athletes time to acclimate to the warm temperatures, don’t push them too hard early in the season.
– Tournament coordinators, coaches and parents could consider increasing the recovery time between same day matches, scheduling games during the cooler parts of the day, monitoring athletes and encouraging rest, rehydration and cooling strategies.

All-Natural Sports Drink Recipe

1 cup lemon juice (approx 6-8 lemons)
1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Combine ingredients in a pint mason jar and stir to combine. Keep concentrate in the fridge. Add 1-2 tablespoons of concentrate to 8oz water (1 cup)


1.Nutrition Today. Hydration status in active youth. Stavros A. Kavouras, PhD Giannis Arnaoutis, PhD. 2012, vol. 47(4S)
2.The international journal of sports physical therapy. Medical sports injuries in the youh athletes: emergency management. Donna L. Merkel, PT, MS, SCS, CSCS1 Joseph T. Molony Jr, PT, MS, SCS, CSCS2. 2012, vol. 7(2)

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