Staying hydrated is one of the most important things a rugby player needs to keep in mind – whether during practice or a game. It may seem straightforward but often we may be dehydrated without even realising it. The answer to staying hydrated is to ensure you are long before your body gives you a “sign” that you need water.
WHAT EXACTLY IS DEHYDRATION?
Dehydration is the end result when exercise, sun and other activities cause us to lose the main producers of energy in our bodies – water, electrolytes and carbohydrates. Without these, we often experience a slump or lack of energy, preventing us from being able to give every task our best.
HYDRATING BEFORE AND AFTER EXERCISE
In order to prevent dehydration, we need to be conscious of our water intake. We have put together a water schedule that you can follow to keep you hydrated all day.
- Two hours before exercise, try to drink two glasses (500 ml) of water.
- During exercise, drink about half a glass (125 ml) every 15 minutes – do not wait until you are thirsty, as this may make your dehydration even worse.
- After exercise, use your body weight to determine how much water you need. It may require weighing yourself before and after practice. Make sure you drink two glasses (500 ml) per half a kilogram of body weight lost. The weight lost during exercise is water weight, so if you have lost 500g then drink two cups and vice versa.
WHAT TO DRINK?
Avoid energy drinks before or during a match, as they are most often loaded with sugar and cause a severe energy slump once the initial, desired energy boost is over. Try avoiding fizzy, sugary or energy drinks as they can dehydrate the body. Water or coconut water (with no added sugar) are better choices as they are low in calories and are naturally refreshing. Try to avoid drinks like milk or fruit juices as their carbohydrate content is too high and can cause an upset stomach.
For a homemade, healthier version of an energy drink, try the recipe below:
HOME MADE ENERGY DRINK
- ¼ cup lime juice
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 1 ½ to 2 cups fresh water
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 2 tbsps. Honey
- Place everything into a blender, and mix until the honey has dissolved. Pour into glass or juice bottle and add ice. Drink when needed.
NOTES FOR COACHES AND PARENTS:
Good hydration minimises the risk of a player getting a cramp and increases their mental alertness, so make sure that your players are drinking enough water before, during and after a match. Look out for signs of dehydration in your players – the most visually obvious of which is dizziness – and ask them if they have a headache or are feeling thirsty during practice. Make sure you remind your players to drink often during sessions, and that they shouldn’t wait until they are thirsty. Younger players (9-12 years old) should be sipping from water every 20 minutes in order to replenish themselves.