Hockey players can drink just as much fluid before a game as athletes in other sports yet still find themselves dehydrated after a game, while their counterparts on the soccer field or baseball diamond are fine. Why? A hockey player’s heart rate often averages 160 BPM on the ice, dropping to 120 during his one-minute rest on the bench, then skyrocketing again. This relentless cycle wreaks havoc on the sweat system.
Many hockey players lose a lot of sodium through sweat during a game. If you’re one of these “salt sweaters,” you need to replenish sodium during the game, not wait until after, to prevent cramping and to maintain peak performance.
So how do you stay hydrated during games? Gatorade is one option. You could also try Pedialyte for a fast infusion of electrolytes. I highly recommend a 50/50 mixture of Pedialyte and water to decrease the chance of an upset stomach. No one wants that on the ice. Never mix regular table salt with water and drink it! That mixture does not provide the correct salt for hydration. It could potentially induce vomiting, which will not only ruin your game but also further dehydrate you.
Focus on keeping your water levels high pre-game, so that you lessen the chance of becoming dehydrated during the game (learn more about hydration scheduling). One of my personal mentors told his athletes to drink so they would “pee like a racehorse” every hour leading up to a game. Don’t forget: if your pee is clear, then you’re in the clear!