Hydration is critical to athletic performance as well as athlete safety.  Tips to remember:

  • The key to avoiding dehydration is being well hydrated BEFORE practice or competition.  Athletes simply cannot absorb enough fluid during a game or practice to replace what is lost
  • A thirsty athlete is already dehydrated. Help athletes get in the habit of hydrating even when not thirsty
  • Stay away from energy drinks, soda or caffeinated beverages
Hydration is especially important if there are two games or practices in a day. Being hydrated will make a big difference in performance, especially in the second practice or game. Guidelines (keep in mind these are for kids who weight about 80 pounds; increase it proportionally for bigger kids):

Day before practice or game: At least an extra 18 ounces of water above normal intake, consumed throughout the day.

Day of practice or game:
  • Morning: 6-8 ounces of sports drink on waking and again each hour before the first game or practice (even if that means a pit stop on the ride there)
  • During game or practice: Drink as much water as comfortable when on bench or between periods (at least a mouthful after every shift)
  • After 1st game or practice: Full 16 ounces of sports drink immediately after game or practice, then 6-8 ounces each hour until the next game or practice
  • After 2nd game or practice: Full 16 ounces of sports drink or water immediately after game or practice, then 6-8 ounces each hour for four hours after the game or practice
  • If enough fluids are being consumed, urine will be clear or light yellow, not dark yellow.
Recovery after practice or game:

  • Kids can supplement after-game fluids with 8 ounces of low fat chocolate milk consumed within 20 minutes of end of practice or game (helps replenish glycogen in muscles, provides antioxidant to reduce muscle inflammation and has right balance of carbohydrate and protein to help recovery). Shelf-stable chocolate milk boxes (Hersheys, Horizon, etc) work well and do not need refrigeration.
  • Have a meal and recharge with carbs and protein as soon after the game as possible -- preferably within 30 minutes (see Nutrition section)
Stay away from the junk!

  • Do not consume soda (too much sugar), caffeinated beverages (caffeine is a diuretic that causes you to dehydrate) or so-called "energy" drinks (cause a short burst of energy followed by a crash, and can dangerously elevate heart rate during exertion).
  • Candy, potato chips, and other junk food are empty calories that do not help recovery.  Have pretzels, a banana or an fitness-oriented energy bar instead (see Nutrition section)

Additional Resources

Read more about hydration and get specific guidelines for hydrating before practice or competition:

Dehydration and Rehydration for Hockey: Short article explaining dehydration in simple language and providing guidelines for hydration before, durng and after competition

Hydration for Hockey Players: Short article from the Minnesota Hockey Coaches Association

Hydration, Sports Drinks and Water: Comprehensive paper presented by Mike Powers to USA Hockey Coaching Symposium

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The information, including opinions and recommendations, contained in this website is for educational purposes only. Such information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. No one should act upon any information provided in this website without first seeking medical advice from a qualified medical physician.