Having fun, playing, and winning the game are in front of all young athletes’ minds. It’s up to the parents and coaches to ensure these young athletes get the proper nutrition and hydration. Here is a quick look into the process of dehydration and ways parents can support kids as they exercise and have fun.

Critical for good health and athletic performance, children often overlook hydration. When a child says they’re thirsty, likely, they are already dehydrated. Not only can they experience uncomfortable symptoms of dehydration, but their athletic abilities can suffer. Almost every measurement of performance — including strength, speed, power, agility, and reaction time — is limited with dehydration. The negative impact of fluid loss can start occurring at just a 1% decrease in body weight in children.

Essential Hydration Tips for Your Child Athlete

As the body generates heat through exercise, the body temperature rises and produces sweat as a response. Sweating leads to fluid loss if it isn’t replaced. This can cause muscle fatigue and exhaustion, affecting function and increasing the risk of injury. The fluid loss process can begin before the child has even started playing.

According to research, up to 75% of 8- to 18-year-old athletes arrive to practice already dehydrated. To help avoid dehydration, it’s essential to encourage your child athlete to drink water in the morning and before and during the game.

Adults can help children prevent fluid loss and dehydration by keeping an eye on the many warning signs. Some symptoms of dehydration can include dry mouth, sticky saliva, lack of energy, dizziness, headache, and more. If you notice kids experiencing any of these signs, it’s essential to get them to a cooler space, provide cold water and continue to monitor them. Urine output is also another way of telling dehydration. If your child has dark-yellow urine or is urinating small, infrequent amounts, it is a sign they are not getting enough to drink.

Water bottles, Snacks, & Beverages

Another way adults and coaches can help is always to bring a big sports bag packed with water bottles, snacks, and beverages. Drinking enough water is necessary, but having healthy snacks on gameday is also helpful. Kids need to perform from nuts to granola bars.

Providing the nutrients they need can improve their whole sports-playing experience. Sports drinks are another great way to replace electrolytes but aren’t necessary depending on the duration and intensity of the exercise. You might want to keep some sports drinks on hand for picky eaters, but be sure to steer clear of energy drinks — they are not the same.

Remind your little athlete that staying hydrated is essential. Every time they eat or drink, it’s an opportunity for them to make their body healthier. For more information about hydration,  please see the accompanying resource by Axio Athletic.

This infographic was created by Axio Athletic, a provider of custom slowpitch softball jerseys

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