Hydration is the most important training issue any player will face on a daily basis, it's so important that the sports drinks industry have invested millions of dollars  researching for the best proper hydration. What should soccer players drink and when should they consume these liquids, what role does good old water play in this equation.

Let's talk about what a soccer player should not consume, Pop/Soda is not good for hydration due to the carbonation effect, it can cause stomach upset, the sugar content is very high and if the Pop/Soda has a caffeine content it will restrict the bodies attempt to absorb water.

Fruit juices are not a great choice (old school) for the same reasons, usually the sugar content is very high inundated with acids that may once again upset the stomach. Milk is an old school choice, but not my choice.

We should understand what a dehydrated soccer players performance may look like, the body is made up of approximately 70% of water and as we work/exercise we will lose some of that water through sweat, e.g., during a soccer game depending on the amount of work/exercising done a player can lose approximately 1.5 % of body weight, that's why it's not advantageous to play summer tournaments in very hot days and ask young players to play two, sometimes three games in one day .

Very important medical studies have shown that a reduction in body weight can result in a 10% loss in muscle capacity, it impacts their mental alertness and invariably results in poor decision making, long and short of this comment is that our players can get injured. This is a warning to coaches who demand their teams play to many games in very hot days and it is very critical that all players are properly hydrated before, during and after games/practices. Remember, replacing the sweat you have lost should be done immediately if you expect to physically perform.

Good old water is an extremely effective way to preventing dehydration, if you are properly hydrated by your water intake you will be far sharper than the soccer player who is not hydrated. Get into the habit of drinking water before, during and following your practices and games and always do personal hydration checks "Simply inspect the colour of your urine" it should be a pale yellow colour. If your urine is any darker in colour, that will be an indication as to how dehydrated you are.

All coaches should demand that their players drink as much as they can, if you drink as much as you can a full day before competition it will allow the body tissues to absorb as much fluid as possible. Drinking water four/six hours before competition will not be sufficient, the body needs at least 24 hours to be effective.

Drinking those fancy sports drinks with the enticing labels and beautiful TV advertisements can do more good than water, due to the fact that they taste real good, so the consumption is greater, they may even have carbohydrates, not found in regular water, carbohydrates will slow down the onset of muscle fatigue, this is done by sparing the muscle glycogen by increasing the body's blood glucose levels, so these fancy labeled sports drinks can really do a job and they can speed up the natural glycogen reserved for energy.

Cold drinks are absorbed into the system faster than warm drinks, so keep that old ice bucket handy on the side lines.

Fluids/Fluids/Fluids, coaches must stress the importance as well as stressing the importance of a balanced diet for soccer players.

Soccer Players Fluid Intake

  • Body water daily intake, 2 litres per day
  • Practices & Games, water intake will increase dramatically
  • Remember fluid loss will effect performance by 20% to 30%
  • 2 days before competition maximum water intake
  • 15 minutes before practices or games 300 mi
  • Replacing your sweat loss/replenishing should be a habit


Heat and Humidity as Risk Factors

The challenges of exercising in the heat

  • During exercise, the muscles produce heat This treatment must be dissipated, otherwise the body runs the risk of "overheating." Overheating can result in serious, potentially life threatening injuries.
  • Sweating is one of the heat-dissipating mechanisms of the body. When sweat evaporates, it cools off the body.
  • Most sport activities lead to heat production and sweating, Evaporation of sweat works best when the air is dry. In moist, damp air, sweat cannot evaporate easily and cooling off is more difficult.
  • If the air temperature is high during vigorous activity, participants can lose a significant amount of water through sweating.
  • High temperatures and high relative humidity make it hard for the body to dissipate heat; heavy sweating occurs, but the water lost does not help to cool off the body. Under these conditions, participants run the risk of overheating.
  • Water lost as a result of heavy sweating can lead to dehydration. Dehydration can reduce performance, decrease the body's ability to dissipate heat, and endanger health.
  • During exercise in the heat, adequate hydration is a must. Participants must drink water/fluids whenever the risk of dehydration is present.
  • Thirst is not a good indicator of a need for water. In fact, dehydration has already started if a participant feels thirsty.
  • During most exercise conditions, the rate at which participants lose water exceeds the rate at which they can absorb it by drinking. This is accentuated during exercise in a hot environment. Therefore, participants need to drink fluids before they are thirsty.
  • Children run a higher risk of overheating when exercising in the heat, because their sweating mechanism is not fully developed. In addition, children tend to not drink enough during exercise, in particular, if the beverage is not flavoured.