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Four Important Hydration Strategies For Football Players

With the NFL divisional playoffs underway, we wanted to send a reminder to all football athletes about the importance of hydration during competition. Even at the highest level the same rules apply. When in humid or hot conditions competing at the highest level, it could be easy for NFL players to take for granted the necessity of consistent liquids prior to and during play. Even in the cooler months, proper hydration remains one of the leading factors in overall performance.


Football on its own is demanding enough, but players need to pay close attention to their hydration, drinking plenty of fluids—both water and sports drinks. Doing so not only boosts your on-field performance, it also helps guard against heat stroke and illness.

Here are four ways to make sure your fluid, energy and electrolyte levels are right where they should be.

Stay Ahead of the Game
Never allow thirst to be your guide. Athletes usually don’t feel thirsty until it’s too late; an excessive amount of fluid has already been lost. That means dehydration is about to set in, with fun side effects like fatigue, exhaustion, muscle cramps, headaches, thirst and dizziness.

Have a Plan
According to experts, players should drink 12 ounces of fluid about 15 minutes before rigorous activity begins. Once the game is underway, have a drink every 20 minutes during the first hour to replenish fluid loss. Sports drinks can be especially helpful since they replace lost electrolytes.

Skip the Soda
Yes, you want to be psyched up for your game and feel energetic. But caffeinated drinks like soda or coffee aren’t the answer. They provide “perceived” energy, not real energy that powers your muscles. Worse, caffeinated drinks can send your heart rate into overdrive and, in some instances, lead to other medical issues such as arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat).

Watch Your Output
It’s easy for hydration to fall by the wayside as a long day’s practice wears on, but thankfully there’s a simple way to tell if you’re drinking enough fluids: Check your urine. If it’s clear or light in color, you’re getting enough water and other liquids—keep it up. If it’s darker in color, go hit the drinking fountain and stay there for a bit. And if it’s really dark—like apple cider—tell your team trainer, stat.