Most players seem to understand the need to hydrate for games and practice sessions.
But as coaches we often see players using the wrong fluids or not understanding how the body makes use of them.
So let’s remind ourselves of the basics …
First, our bodies sweat during exercise as a way to bring down the body temperature. During a game or heavy training session, we can lose a large amount of fluid. Unless we’ve already taken steps to hydrate, the loss of fluid will leave us tired and unable to perform at our best.
Here’s a key point. When you drink a glass of water, it can take between an hour and two hours for your body to use it to replace the fluids you lose through perspiration.
So why wait for the game or practice to start before you drink it?
You should have a couple of glasses of water an hour or two before exercise, and then top up before you start playing.
If water’s not for you, or you want something that will work faster, use a sports drink (Powerade, Gatorade, Loaded etc.), though you might want to dilute these if you want to put less sugar into your system.
Sometimes we see players loading up with “high energy” drinks before a game or session. These drinks often have caffeine in them, or something similar, to provide instant stimulation. The problem with these is that they also often act as a diuretic – meaning they make you want to go to the toilet – and your body ends up losing fluids, not gaining them.
If you are serious about your game, and your performance, it makes sense to do everything you can to back up your hard work – and that includes managing your fluid intake.