Hydration, The Key to Peak Performance

On average, a soccer player can cover 12-16 km within a 90 minute game. With little to no shift changes, soccer players must ensure they're well hydrated before the game starts. This means hydrating not only the day of a game, but also several days before and after to make sure your stores are replenished.

Why is hydration so important?

  1. Water is needed to cool the body down by sweating to prevent heat stroke.

  2. Fancy footwork requires proper hydration. Dehydration can lead to fatigue, diminished focus and slowed muscle reaction time. Electrolytes such as sodium and potassium are essential for muscle movement.

Prevent Injury: fatigued players are more prone to injury. Dehydration and sodium loss can also contribute to cramping.

Drink before thirst. Exercise dulls the thirst mechanism.
  • Hot temperatures contribute to dehydration and potential heat stroke. Increase volume of hydration on hotter days.

Signs of Dehydration:

  • Urine colour is the best indicator of hydration. The clearer the urine, the more hydrated you are. Dark urine is an indicator of dehydration, drink water immediately if this happens. Hypo-hydration (too much water intake) can also occur, use urine colour as an indicator and pace your intake.

  • Skin Turgor, a sign of dehydration: skin with decreased turgor will remain elevated once it is pulled and released. This can be tested on the back of the hand.

Sports Drinks:

• Chocolate milk is a good way to replenish your energy stores and increase fluid intake, although it also comes with a high dose of added sugar. Limit consumption to 8 oz maximum (a small bottle) or make your own to reduce added sugars: blend raw cocoa powder, raw honey, vanilla extract and organic milk.

• Coconut water makes an excellent electrolyte replacement drink due to its potassium content. If a lot of sweat has been lost, add a sprinkle of pink salt for complete electrolyte replacement.

• Sports drinks such as Powerade contain high fructose corn syrup, which is so heavily processed it’s detoxified like a poison by the liver. Not to mention the inflammatory synthetic dyes used. Try this recipe that provides all the correct ratios of quick-absorbing carbs (for energy), electrolytes and hydration:

Homemade Sports Drink Recipe

  • 500ml water (infuse with hibiscus flowers for flavour)

  • 2 tbsp unpasteurized honey

  • ¼ tsp Pink Salt (contains more minerals)

  • ¼ cup lemon juice

Make in a large batch, store in the fridge (up to 4 days) to drink throughout the week. You’ll save money and improve your performance!

Nicole Di Nardo CNP

iNutrition for Football: Hydration Strategies. Zurich: FIFA: Fédération Internationale De Football Association, n.d. A practical guide to eating and drinking for health and performance.

ii"Coaching Association of Canada." Fluids for Athletes. N.p., 2016. Web. 24 Sept. 2016.