To keep children in top shape for sports, it is important for them to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. Dehydration occurs when a body loses more water than it takes in (such as through sweating). When children do not drink enough water while playing sports, they could be at risk for dehydration, heat exhaustion or even heatstroke.
- Make sure athletes have a water bottle for every practice and game.
- Make sure athletes drink fluids (water is the best option) 30 minutes before the activity begins and every 15-20 minutes during activity. Avoid any drinks with sugar or caffeine.
- Establish mandatory water breaks throughout practices and games do not wait for a child to tell you he or she is thirsty. Encourage children to stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of water before, during and after play.
- Encourage athletes to drink plenty of water. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends:
- 5 oz. for an 88-pound child every 20 minutes
- 9 oz. for a 132-pound child every 20 minutes
Know the Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration
The severity of dehydration can vary from mild to more life threatening if left unchecked. There are three levels of dehydration: heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heatstroke.
Symptoms range from muscle cramping in the calves, back, arms or abdomen (heat cramps) to faintness or dizziness, nausea and rapid heartbeat (heat exhaustion) to collapse, emotional instability and very high body temperature (heatstroke).