• Marc Sherry

6 essential elements to optimizing athletic performance and sport skill - Part 3

Element #3 = Hydration

Dehydration can decrease endurance, decrease concentration, increase fatigue, increase recovery time, make you more susceptible to heat illness and cause headaches. When you are dehydrated, you have a smaller volume of blood circulating through your body. Consequently, the amount of blood your heart pumps with each beat decreases and your exercising muscles do not receive enough oxygen from your blood. Soon exhaustion sets in and your athletic performance suffers. The bottom line is you can not be at your best if you are not properly hydrated.

Some easy, measurable ways to quantify this for athletes:

  • An athlete's baseline hydration should be 60 oz per day with another 12 oz for every 15-20m min of training/competition.

  • At the end of the day you should have drank at least ½ your body weight in ounces of water based fluids.

  • Bring water to practice and games, drink before you are thirsty – approximately every 15-20 min. Drink at least 2 cups of water or sports drink one hour before and after practice or games. Drink 16 ounces of water before bed.

  • Avoid sports drinks with more than 8% carbohydrate as this can interfere with fluid absorption.Sports drinks containing between 6% and 8% carbohydrate (sugars) are absorbed into the body as rapidly as water and can provide energy to working muscles that water cannot while training. Avoid so-called “Energy Drinks” like Red Bull, Venom, Adrenaline Rush, 180, and Iso Sprint because they contain very high levels of caffeine, other stimulants, and huge amounts of sugar. They DO NOT provide the kind of sustained energy you need for athletic competition, and can have exactly the opposite effect by causing poor or lack of sleep, “crashing” when the caffeine wears off, and nutrient-wasting, by stealing your appetite from healthy foods and fluids. Energy drinks can also cause significant dehydration, as well as raising your heart rate and blood pressure; three things you should avoid on game day!

  • Maybe the most simple measure.........your urine should be light yellow and plentiful, if it is bright or darker or of small volume you are dehydrated. Urine color charts can help athletes understand if they are dehydrated or not.

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