How to Stay Hydrated in Soccer
Staying hydrated in soccer is crucial to your performance on the field. Dehydration can lead to fatigue, cramps, and a decrease in cognitive functioning.
Sometimes it can be challenging, while you are in the moment, to stay hydrated during a game or practice. In this article, we’ll provide you with some tips on how to stay hydrated during soccer games and practices.
Why Hydration is Important for Soccer Players
As an athlete, staying hydrated is crucial for optimal performance. The human body is made up of about 60% water, and even mild dehydration can have negative effects on your body and performance. At the end of the day, we need water in our systems!
Here are a few reasons why hydration is so important:
- Regulates body temperature: When you exercise, your body temperature rises, and sweating is your body’s way of cooling down. If you are dehydrated, your body can’t produce enough sweat to cool you down, which can lead to overheating and heat exhaustion.
- Improves endurance: Dehydration can cause fatigue, muscle cramps, and reduced endurance. By staying hydrated, you can maintain your energy levels and perform at your best for longer periods of time.
- Enhances cognitive function: Your brain is made up of about 73% water, and dehydration can lead to headaches, dizziness, and impaired cognitive function. Staying hydrated can help you stay focused and alert on the field.
- Reduces risk of injury: Dehydration can lead to muscle strains, sprains, and other injuries. By staying hydrated, you can help prevent these injuries and recover faster if they do occur.
How Much Water Should You Drink?
So how much water should you be drinking? The general rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight in ounces of water per day.
So if you weigh 150 pounds, you should aim to drink at least 75 ounces (or about 9 cups) of water per day.
However, when you are playing soccer, you need to drink even more to compensate for the water lost through sweating. You should aim to drink 20 ounces of water 2 hours before the game, and then 10 ounces every 10-20 minutes during the game.
It’s also important to remember that water isn’t the only way to stay hydrated. Sports drinks, coconut water, and other beverages can also help replenish electrolytes lost through sweating.
Just be sure to read the labels and choose beverages that are low in sugar and high in electrolytes.
How to Prepare for Hydration
Drinking Enough Water Before the Game
It is recommended that you start hydrating 24 hours before the game.
Drinking two glasses of water upon waking up is a good start. Honestly, you should be doing this every morning as your body doesn’t get any water for eight hours.
An easy test, if you need more water, is to check your urine color. If it’s clear or light yellow, you are well-hydrated. If it’s dark yellow or amber, you need to drink more water. Simple.
Eating Foods with High Water Content
In addition to drinking water, you can also eat foods that are high in water content.
Some examples include watermelon, cucumbers, oranges, and strawberries. These foods can help you stay hydrated and provide you with essential nutrients that your body needs to perform well during the game.
Avoiding Dehydrating Drinks
It’s important to avoid drinks that can dehydrate you, alcohol and caffeine being the big ones. These drinks can increase your urine output and lead to dehydration.
For youth soccer players, staying away from soda on game days is always a good idea.
Using Electrolyte Supplements
Electrolyte supplements can help you stay hydrated and provide your body with essential minerals that are lost through sweat. You can find electrolyte supplements in the form of tablets, powders, or drinks.
Monitoring Your Hydration Levels
You can monitor your hydration levels by checking your urine color and frequency. You should urinate frequently throughout the day, and your urine should be clear or light yellow. If it’s dark yellow or amber, you need to drink more water.
Preparing Your Water Bottles
Before the game, make sure you have enough water bottles to last you throughout the game. You can fill them with water, sports drinks, or coconut water. You can also add ice cubes to keep them cool.
Make sure you label your water bottles with your name and keep them in a cooler or in a shaded area to prevent them from getting too warm.
If you are playing a tournament, you may want to fill up a large cooler with a couple of jugs of water and ice. You’ll need this if you play multiple games in a single day.
Hydration During the Game
Staying hydrated during a soccer game is crucial for maintaining your performance and avoiding dehydration. Here are some tips for staying hydrated during the game:
Drinking Water During Breaks
During halftime and other breaks in the game, make sure to drink water to replenish fluids lost during the first half.
Again, it’s recommended to consume around 10 ounces of water every 20 minutes of gameplay, so use these breaks to catch up on your hydration.
Soccer does not have timeouts so use halftime as a way to rest and hydrate.
If the weather is scorching hot, the head referee may stop play for a brief water break. This is usually discussed prior to the game with both coaches. In this case, keep your water under shade and use this timeout to get as much water into your body as possible.
Drinking Sports Drinks
Sports drinks can be a good alternative to water during the game, as they contain electrolytes that help replenish the body’s fluids and minerals lost through sweat.
However, be careful not to consume too many sports drinks, as they can contain high levels of sugar and calories.
Hydrating in Hot and Humid Conditions
In hot and humid conditions, it’s important to drink more fluids than usual to avoid dehydration. Make sure to drink water or sports drinks before, during, and after the game to stay hydrated.
Hydrating consistently on hot days is vital to staying sharp.
Hydrating in Cold Conditions
Hydrating on colder days is often overlooked. But, it’s almost equally as important to get plenty of water in your system.
Players can still become dehydrated during cooler days.
Healthy Alternatives to Water
While water is the most effective way to stay hydrated during soccer games, there are other options that can also help keep you hydrated.
Here are a few healthy alternatives to water:
- Sports drinks: Sports drinks such as Gatorade can help replenish electrolytes lost through sweat during exercise. At the same time, these drinks do have sugar in them. If you have a player who is sensitive to sugary drinks and foods, it might be best to stick to water.
- Coconut water: Coconut water is a natural source of electrolytes and can be a good alternative to sports drinks. It also contains potassium, which can help prevent muscle cramps. Some kids can’t stand the taste of coconut water but, for players that do like it, it is a very healthy alternative to water.
- Herbal teas: Herbal teas can be a great way to stay hydrated while also getting the benefits of different herbs. For example, chamomile tea can help reduce inflammation, while peppermint tea can help with digestion.
It’s important to note that while these alternatives can be helpful, they should not replace water as your primary source of hydration. Water is still the best way to stay hydrated during soccer games.
Signs of Dehydration
Let’s take a moment to discuss the signs of dehydration. This is a common problem for soccer players, particularly during hot and humid weather conditions.
It is important to recognize the signs of dehydration so that you can take steps to prevent it. Here are some common signs of dehydration:
- Thirst: If you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Thirst is your body’s way of telling you that it needs more fluids.
- Dry Mouth: A dry mouth is a sign that you are not producing enough saliva, which can be caused by dehydration.
- Dizziness or lightheadedness: Dehydration can cause a drop in blood pressure, which can lead to dizziness or lightheadedness. In this case, try to sit down on a bench and replenish yourself with lots of water. Don’t go back to practice or a game until you feel solid on your feet.
- Headaches: Dehydration can cause headaches, particularly if you are also experiencing dizziness or lightheadedness.
- Dark Urine: If your urine is dark yellow or amber, it is a sign that you are dehydrated. Your urine should be light yellow or clear.
- Fatigue: Dehydration can cause fatigue or a feeling of sluggishness, which can affect your performance on the soccer field.
- Muscle Cramps: When you are dehydrated, your body loses fluids and electrolytes, such as sodium, potassium, and magnesium, which are important for muscle function. An imbalance of electrolytes can cause muscle cramping.
If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to take immediate action to rehydrate your body.
Stop playing and rest in a cool, shaded area. Drink water or a sports drink that contains electrolytes to replenish fluids and minerals lost through sweat.
Preventing dehydration is key to performing at your best on the soccer field. Make sure you drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after games and practices, even if you don’t feel thirsty.
Remember, by the time you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated!