Photo via Gatorade
The importance of hydration can't be overstated, whether it's a youth football player or an NFL great like Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt.
As noted by Denver Broncos assistant athletic trainer Mike Sundeen, athletes lose electrolytes and water through sweat. Electrolytes let the body perform at an optimal rate, while water promotes muscle function. Dehydrated athletes experience fatigue and sometimes fall victim to heat-related illness.
RELATED CONTENT: USA Football Prep for the Season Resource Guide
RELATED CONTENT: Prep for the Season: Create the football playbook you need to succeed with FirstDown Playbook
As found in the USA Football Parent Guide, dehydration symptoms include:
RELATED CONTENT: Prep for the Season: Football jersey ideas from USA Football partners Siege and Badger
RELATED CONTENT: Prep for the Season: How Riddell’s InSite training tool can help your program monitor head impact exposure, plan practices more efficiently
As for how to properly hydrate in-season, Sundeen recommends athletes drink 15 to 20 ounces of fluid two to three hours prior to practice or games, and 7 to 10 ounces of water every 20 to 30 minutes during activity.
Sundeen also suggests coaches weigh athletes before and after practice. The difference in the two weights serves as a guide toward proper hydration after activity. Athletes should drink 12 ounces of water or carbohydrate beverage for every pound of weight lost.
To help prevent heat-based issues, coaches can either schedule outdoor workouts early in the day before peak sunlight, or closer to sunset.
RELATED CONTENT: Prep for the Season: Watch for summer-long #TackleTubeTuesday football drills series
RELATED CONTENT: Prep for the Season: Football equipment checklist for parents and coaches
USA Football partner Gatorade provides multiple options to battle dehydration, both before and after athletic activity. Gatorade replenishes electrolytes like sodium, potassium and chloride lost in sweat. It stimulates thirst so athletes drink more, and retains fluid so they remain hydrated. Unlike water, Gatorade refuels with carbohydrates to give working muscles more energy to help athletes push their hardest.
Gatorade offers various forms of performance-boosting nutrition, including sports drinks, protein powders, bars and chews, and endurance packs:
RELATED CONTENT: Prep for the Season: USA Football Rewards by FlipGive makes sports fundraising easy while shopping online
RELATED CONTENT: Prep for the Season: Peopletrail partners with USA Football for sports background checks
RELATED CONTENT: Prep for the Season: Gilman Gear brings nearly 90 years of football equipment experience to the practice field