Every athlete has heard it dozens of times and yet every year there are cases of athletes, no matter the sport, having to sit or be excused from work-outs due to heat exhaustion, dehydration, or even more serious the threat of heat stroke.
Soccer players are no exception to the rule and in a sport where breaks in play is limited and chances to get water are even less, stepping out onto the field well-hydrated is essential to remaining healthy and experiencing success.
Let’s first talk about what ‘hydrating’ isn’t:
- Drinking two 32 oz. Gatorades two hours before a game or practice ISN’T hydrating.
- Drinking water constantly the morning of your competition also ISN’T hydrating.
- Drinking soda/tea/coffee all week and then switching to water the night before a game ISN’T hydrating.
The above items are usually done in good faith, but the truth is in all the of the scenarios above you’re either doing too little or it’s too late. Drinking excessive amounts of water, or any type of sports drink in the hour or so before a competition is really only increasing the chances of you either throwing up on the field (which as it turns out, dehydrates you) or needing to pee in the middle of the game.
Hydration is best established 48 hours before a game. That’s right, a two-day buffer is going to help you make sure that you only put clean fluids (that’s water, and really just water) into your body and that you can be optimally hydrated without having to constantly run to the bath room every 20 minutes.
It’s good to point out that along with hydration, it’d benefit you to be conscious of what you’re eating within 48 hours of a game as well. As tempting as pizza and french fries can be when you’re starving from training, high sodium foods will dehydrate you from the inside, without you even knowing it.
Hydration plays a huge role in your lean muscle tissue. Lean muscle tissue is typically made up of nearly 75% water, meaning that when dehydrated your body will burn out faster and not just in one sense of fitness, but across the board your muscle strength, power, aerobic capacity, and anaerobic capacity will all go down if you are dehydrated.
If you step out onto the field dehydrated you compromise the results of all the hours of training you put in. You don’t work all that time at practice and work-outs to arrive at 70% strength to the game. Failing to hydrate is one of the easiest ways to cheat yourself when it comes to game time.
Hydration is more than just physical benefits. Becoming dehydrated is one of the quickest ways to to expose mental weakness. General science collectively agrees that dehydration compromises both your short-term memory function, focus, and reaction time. Water is one of the most efficient energy suppliers for your brain, which is important because brain cells require nearly twice the energy to function as the cells in the rest of your body.
The drowsiness, fatigue, and headaches that can stop you from finishing your reps during a work-out or keep you from finding your top gear during game time can likely be traced back to inadequate hydration having an affect on your brain.
As you can see hydration can be one of the main factors that dictates your success during game time. The more in tune you are with your own hydration level the better off you’ll be every time you step onto the field whether it’s for practice or a game.
So make sure you’re steady on your sippin’ of water, a.k.a: