How to Hydrate for a Soccer Match – Avoid mistakes and learn best practices.
Soccer is a heavily demanding physical activity, and dehydration is one of the main reasons for a decline of performance on the field. With that in mind, it should be obvious that players need to make sure they take in more fluids for a competition than on a normal day. Just to make up for the water lost sweating. But how do you hydrate for a soccer match properly?
There is no general number on how much water a player loses per game. It depends on the degree of intensity, fitness level, and weather conditions. Especially during the summer, or in regions with constant warm weather, like Southern California. The amount of water lost increases drastically and can be more than a 32oz. Even if your players are not thirsty, it is crucial that they rehydrate to avoid injuries and decreases in performance.
Staying Hydrated All the Time
Preparing for a match starts long before the actual kickoff. Your player should stat hydrating 24 hours before a match starts. Most of the liquids needed (about 80%) should come from drinks, and the rest from foods. A good guideline to follow here is at least 6-8 8oz glasses of fluids every day with average temperatures and exercise intensity. This is important to maintain proper hydration throughout the day. About 2-3 hours before a game, your player should load up on water, and drink about 17-20oz. Constant rehydration during the game is crucial as a lot of water is lost sweating, so 7-10oz every 20min can help avoid dehydration. Right after the game, 8oz should be consumed.
Right Choice of Fluids
As much as the right amount of fluids is important, if your player drinks 20oz of cola before a game, he or she will not perform well. The right choice of fluids matters just as much! Water is the recommended drink of choice, but juice, tea and sports drinks can serve as occasional supplements. Sports drinks have become very popular and are a great addition for your player, if used correctly. The main reason sports drinks such as Gatorade are beneficial is that they contain electrolytes. Electrolytes are minerals that affect muscle functions and water retention. They are lost by the body through sweating and can lead to a decrease in performance. Sports drinks should be used only during (half-time) and immediately after competition to replace these electrolytes. They also contain a lot of sugar, so they should be avoided as a common go-to-choice during the day.
How to Recognize Dehydration
Thirst is already a sign of mild dehydration. Other signs include having a dry mouth, headaches, muscle cramps, less urination and dark-colored urine. Mild dehydration can be easily treated by drinking water and sports drinks, or by sucking on ice cubes. Severe dehydration needs to be taken care of by a medical professional.
Learning how to hydrate is a process for your player and you, but together, you can make sure your player is best prepared for the challenges to come!
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