Sports Hydration: How Do You Hydrate Correctly?

As a parent of a child in sports, it’s important to pay attention to their hydration needs year-round. For many young athletes, learning to hydrate can be a difficult concept. They don’t always recognize the signs of dehydration and make the connection, but getting athletes in the habit of a hydration routine containing electrolytes is beneficial for better performance and overall health.

There are many factors that can increase dehydration during athletic activity, including uniforms, equipment, medications, weight, not being well rested or even getting over an illness. All of these can affect a child athlete and make them more prone to dehydration. It is important to keep youth athletes well hydrated before, during and after the game. Athletes that learn these principles to hydration will continue to feel their best and enjoy sports.

Pre-game:  Prior to taking the field, have your athlete drink 4 to 8 oz of cold water an hour, and double up before the whistle blows. Avoid the soda. The hotter the environment you are playing in, the colder your drink should be. A cold drink will cool your core body temperature and can increase performance. Studies have shown that athletes who ingested iced product before workouts in hot conditions ran 19% further before exhaustion set in ( Encourage your athletes to start the game prepared by hydrating.

During: Cold drinks throughout activity help keep athletes hydrated, and in the game. The International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism found that fluid intake of athletes during exercise is driven by thirst, temperature and flavor. Kids find sweet tasting and cold beverage more palatable than water and are then inclined to drink more. Every 20 minutes of intense play should be followed by 5 to 9 oz of a sports drink containing electrolytes (adult bodies), and players should be encouraged during every break to drink up. Athletes should be informed to drink fluids, even if they aren’t feeling thirsty. As they play the game, their bodies lose important electrolytes and their blood sugar drops. Sports drinks help maintain the body’s blood sugar levels, electrolyte balance and fluid.

Tip: Encourage your athletes to look for the warning signs of dehydration, such as: dry mouth, thirst, headache, dizziness, cramps or fatigue.

Post-game: Continue to hydrate and replace electrolytes after the game with cold sports drinks that balance the sodium and potassium levels of your child. Within 2 hours of the final whistle, make sure you replenish your athlete with carbohydrates, potassium and sodium. During strenuous exercise an adult body can lose over 32 oz of water an hour. Remind young athletes to replace lost fluid and electrolytes after the game to help speed up the recovery process and get on to the rest of their day.

It’s important to remember that keeping well-hydrated before, during and after a game can help increase performance both on and off the field. Knowing the signs of dehydration is an important step to owning their own hydration routine. Emphasize the importance of drinking fluids, even when they are not thirsty. A hydrated athlete will have better endurance and game performance. Do you practice these tips with your children?


PowerICE is an innovative, great tasting, frozen, and hydrating ice bar designed to enhance the performance of athletes by cooling the core body temperature while replenishing lost electrolytes. PowerICE contains fewer calories than traditional sports drinks, no high fructose corn syrup, is packed with Vitamin C  and should be consumed frozen. 


Derek Claxton  

Actually, the referenced review’s purpose was only to study the effects temperature had on palatability, not flavor or perceived thirst. “PURPOSE: The aims of this review were to evaluate the effect of beverage temperature on fluid intake during exercise and investigate the influence of beverage temperature on palatability.”

In some articles, it is suggested that WATER is the best fluid for maintaining hydration before, during and after physical exertion. For example, in Effectiveness of Sports Drinks, Which Drink is Better? By Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. (, Dr. Helmensine writes, “The natural choice for hydration is water. It hydrates better than any other liquid, both before and during exercise.”

In a very short statement, Sports drinks: Better than water? By Mayo Clinic staff ( “Water is generally the best way to replace lost fluids. But if you’re exercising for more than 60 minutes, use a sports drink. Sports drinks can help maintain your body’s electrolyte balance and give you a bit more energy because they contain carbohydrates.”

I will conceed that I have found as many articles touting the use of sports drinks to replenish hydration as I have found promoting water as the best fluid for hydration.

An article on, Sports Drinks vs. Water: Which Is Better For Exercise?, agrees with you in that, “While water actually works better at fluid replacement, sports drinks are often more appealing to the palate.” Another article, Hydration: Water vs. sports drink (, tries to show the merits of both sides of the argument.

I have found that sports drinks are only of benefit to me when I am exercising or performing for more than 90 minutes continuously. For example, playing back to back hockey games or cycling at a moderate to high intensity for more than 90 minutes. When exercising or playing for less than 90 minutes, water is a better hydration fluid before, during and after exercise. Although I must admit, I do not drink during exercise unless it is for longer than 60 minutes. I find that when properly hydrated, my body does not need additional fluids during the first hour of activity and when I have ingested fluids during this time, I experience stomach cramping that coincides with fluid consumption.

Which is correct? Which does your body prefer? I am not a doctor or nutritionist. I only know what works for me. Your body is the ultimate guide to what it needs to perform.

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