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Hydration: Critical to Athletic Performance. (Side Lines).

Dr. Lamb is a professor emeritus of exercise physiology. His research has focused on the effects of dietary carbohydrate and patterns of beverage consumption on athletic performance.


HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETES train hard, they play to win, and they sweat through it all. In the intensity of a practice or game, athletes don't realize the amount of sweat they lose, and that puts them head to head with a nasty competitor - dehydration. It's critical to beat dehydration so athletes can play at their best even in the final minutes of the game.

Hydration is critical to athletic performance. In fact, fluid losses of as little as 2% of body weight (less than 4 pounds in a 200-pound athlete) can impair performance by increasing fatigue. This is important because it's common for some athletes to lose between 5-8 pounds of sweat during a game. So it's easy for athletes to become dehydrated if they don't drink enough to replace what is lost in sweat.

Considering sports drinks versus water for your athletes? Research shows that sports drinks out-perform water because sports drinks:

* Encourage voluntary drinking when athletes are hot and thirsty. Sports drinks with a light flavor and small amount of sodium encourage athletes to drink, and drinking fluids is the first-line of defense against dehydration.

* Stimulate rapid fluid absorption.

Gatorade has the right mix and amount of carbohydrates and electrolytes to speed fluid and carbohydrate into the bloodstream.

* Help keep athletes in the game. Sports drinks can help athletes avoid dehydration and other heat-related problems such as early fatigue, heat cramps, lightheadedness and heat exhaustion.

* Aid performance. Carbohydrate in sports drinks helps athletes perform better in both power and endurance efforts.

* Speed recovery. The carbohydrates and electrolytes in sports drinks help refuel muscles and speed rehydration.

* With a game plan to help your athletes drink the right fluids at the right times, you're giving them the strategy for a highpowered performance that marches their will to win.

RELATED ARTICLE: The National Athletic Trainers' Association "Fluid Replacement for Athletes" Position Statement

* Educate athletes on the effects of dehydration on physical performance.

* Inform athletes on how to monitor hydration status.

* Encourage coaches to mandate rehydration during practices and competitions, just as they require other drills and conditioning activities. Fluid replacement should approximate sweat and urine losses and at least maintain hydration at less than 2% body weight reduction.

* During events, when a high rate of fluid intake is necessary to sustain hydration, the CHO (carboydrate) composition should be kept low (e.g., less than 7%) to optimize gastric emptying and fluid absorption.

* A proper hydration protocol considers each sport's unique features. If rehydration opportunities are frequent (eg, baseball, football, track and field), the athlete can consume smaller volumes at a convenient pace based on sweat rate and environmental conditions. If rehydration must occur a specific times (eg, soccer, lacrosse, distance running), the athlete must consume fluids to maximize hydration within the sports confines and rules.
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Article Details
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Author:Lamb, David R.
Publication:Coach and Athletic Director
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2002
Previous Article:Coaches' Corner.
Next Article:The AD as middle management. (A.D. Ministration).

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