How to Schedule Your Hydration

March 30, 2013 | Joe Giandonato

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As the warmer weather of the spring approaches, so does outdoor activity. Rising temperatures are a pleasant break from the long winter; however, be mindful that you have to hydrate, or your body might break down under the sun. (See Formulate a summer hydration plan.)

Proper hydration is critical for maintaining performance during activity. It helps cool your body and ensures that it has the fluids it needs to perform. If you fail to hydrate, you could be at risk for exhaustion, cramping, hyperthermia, heat stroke and muscle damage. (Learn more about proper hydration.)

Dehydration is a slippery slope. When hydration doesn't compensate for fluid loss, you may start experiencing those dreaded symptoms. Losing as little as one percent of your body weight can begin to cause problems.

As a guideline, if you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated. To prevent potential issues, make sure to start drinking water immediately. It's better to take a proactive approach and hydrate throughout the day than to risk lacking the fluids you need for intense sports performance.

Prior to Competition

  • Keep yourself in a hydrated state by consuming non-caffeinated, non-carbonated and sugar-free beverages throughout the day. The average healthy person excretes 1.5 liters of urine per day, so consume more than 1.5 liters of water.
  • Consume 16 to 20 fluid ounces two to three hours prior to a game or practice.
  • Consume another 16 to 20 fluid ounces 30 minutes prior to a game or practice.
  • Weigh yourself before the game or practice (without clothes).
  • Never arrive at your game or practice thirsty.

During Competition

  • Consume 8 fluid ounces every 15 minutes.
  • Never allow yourself to become thirsty.
  • Consider a sports drink to replenish electrolytes lost from sweat.

After Competition

  • Weigh yourself immediately and replenish lost fluids. For every pound of body weight lost, drink 20 ounces.
  • Do not engage in physical activity until you replenish lost fluids.
Joe Giandonato
- Joe Giandonato, MS, CSCS, is the head strength and conditioning coach at Germantown Academy in Fort Washington, Pa. He has authored numerous articles on a...
Joe Giandonato
- Joe Giandonato, MS, CSCS, is the head strength and conditioning coach at Germantown Academy in Fort Washington, Pa. He has authored numerous articles on a...

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