Kids can often become dehydrated quicker than adults as they aren’t able to regulate their body temperature as well. This means that drinking regularly throughout the day is an important habit for them to get in to. Unfortunately, kids aren’t always good at doing this. They will often need a little encouragement from parents, carers and coaches.

“When I am dehydrated I get a headache, can’t concentrate on the game and I find that my skill level decreases. Hydration is something I have learnt a lot about over the years and is one thing that I always talk to junior footballers about. When I was younger I used to carry a water bottle around at school and take every opportunity to drink. It’s better to sip small amounts over the day versus drinking a lot just before you train or play.” – Zenon Caravella

Everyone has different fluid requirements so there is no standard amount that I can suggest. Basically, follow this guide to find what works best for them:

  • Encourage your kids to take a water bottle to school and drink regularly throughout the day.
  • Have some fluid with meals and snacks on game and training days.
  • Remind junior footballers NOT TO wait until they are thirsty to drink – thirst is an early warning sign of dehydration.
  • Encourage them to look at their urine regularly, particularly before training or before a game – dark yellow/brown means that they are very dehydrated and will need to drink more, whereas a light yellow/clear colour means they are well hydrated. Just be warned that if they are taking a multivitamin this may make their urine go bright yellow even if they are well hydrated!
  • Have fluid available during training and on game day.
    • Make sure these are kept cool to encourage intake.
    • Water is a preferred option for junior footballers in most situations, however if it is extremely hot and humid, they are faced with an extended training session or game or if they are in a tournament situation, sports drinks can taste good (encouraging them to drink more) and provide efficient carbohydrate and electrolytes to improve hydration and quickly top up their muscle carbohydrate stores in order to keep them going!
  • Encourage them to drink during breaks at training and during a game.
  • Because they will continue to sweat after training or a game, remind them to have a drink with their recovery meal and drink until their urine turn light yellow.

It is possible to drink too much fluid and develop a condition called hyponatremia. However, this is very rare in football (including junior football) and generally occurs during really long events (such as the Cairns ironman).

If using sports drink (or any other carbohydrate containing fluids) encourage the kids to rinse their mouth out with water to maintain healthy teeth and gums.

“Drinking regularly is even more important for you all living in Far North Queensland, its hot and humid and we often sweat more when training and playing in those environments – meaning, you need to drink more.” – Nigel Boogaard – Newcastle Jets Captain

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