Summer soccer—or any activity in the heat—means a constant and essential focus on hydration. Particularly among youth players, there are often questions not only on how much to drink (probably more than you are currently taking in), but what to drink. Below is elaboration on the subject from Food Guide for Soccer.
In the meantime, take note that players in Women’s Professional Soccer are provided with both water and sports drinks (including concentrated versions of those drinks for those who sweat heavily). Over the years, professionals learn by trial and error their own hydration routine. With encouragement and guidance from coaches and parents, youth players should do the same.
Water or Sports Drinks?
Water is an adequate fluid replacer during soccer sessions that last less than 60 minutes, particularly if you have fueled-up with a pre-exercise snack. Sports drinks are helpful during training sessions and games that last longer than 60 to 90 minutes or on multiple game days; they replace both water and some carbohydrates. Because carbs help maintain a normal blood sugar level needed to feed your brain, you'll discover you’ll perform better, think clearer, make better decisions, and feel better after playing.
For youth soccer (or any age soccer, for that matter), orange sections + water, watermelon, pretzels + water are all options that will refresh players between halves and offer more nutritional value than a sports drink. Sports drinks are essentially sugar water with a dash of salt. A sports drink provides:
• small amounts of carbohydrates to fuel your mind and muscles.
• sodium to enhance water absorption and retention.
• water to replace sweat losses.
Sports drinks are designed to be consumed during exercise that lasts longer than an hour. However, soccer sells a lot of sports drinks. They seem to be a staple at every game and practice, yet there is no need to drink them throughout the day. A constant intake can damage your teeth, so limit them to playing. With the multitude of sports drinks on the market, you may feel confused about what’s best to drink, and wonder if some are better than the others. The bottom line is that you should choose the drink that tastes best to you; there are no significant advantages to one over the other. The most important point is to drink enough.
Excerpted from Food Guide for Soccer—Tips & Recipes From the Pros, with Women’s Professional Soccer, by Gloria Averbuch and Nancy Clark, RD. Available on www.amazon.com or www.nancyclarkrd.com