Your aspiring athlete is on a roll. He has been taking the initiative and working on his own, focussing on his wall exercises, practicing with his coach and friends and is even getting enough sleep. He is taking time to watch his opponents, study their strengths and weaknesses, watch the pros play and has even started some visualization to give him a leg up for the mental side of the game. But, he seems to be lacking energy halfway through his lesson or match —even when practicing his wall ball activities.
So, lets talk about hydration. When our athletes get tired, the first thing that comes to mind is, “he or she isn’t eating enough.” That might be very well be the case, however we can’t forget about hydration; especially with the extreme activity levels that these athletes endure.
The recommended daily water intake for kids ages 5-8 is one liter, which is about 5 glasses of water; for 9-12 year olds, 1.5 liters and for 12 years and older, 2 liters, which is about 8-10 glasses. It does not seem like a lot but if we don’t get the water consumed early in the day, it is often too late to aid in hydration or help with energy levels, and unless we are really focused, we might totally forget!
So, just how do we get our kids to drink more water? Below are some suggestions for your athlete to help get water consumed early in the day and throughout. When children are away from caregivers, these suggestions can empower children to remain motivated in their hydration challenge.
- Drink water the moment you open your eyes. Have a glass, maybe even two by your athlete’s bed. Before they even get out of bed have them “chug” that water! Make it fun by selecting a cool Nalgene, sippy-cup or Bkr bottle which is so fun and colorful. Let them choose (online) which one fits them best!
- Before breakfast, have another glass. Children often model behavior so have a glass of water with them! This can be a great way to be a role model and you might not be getting enough either! That is already 3 glasses down before the day has started!
- Try to get in the majority of the water early in the day, before you are thirsty. Some specialists stress that if you become “parched” it is a little too late.
- Before practice, usually when you are on your way, make sure to drink another 8 oz glass or water bottle.
- During your match or practice see if you can be challenged by drinking at every side change or every ball pickup. Ask yourself mindful questions that make you in charge of your water consumption, such as, “ Do I feel like I had more energy than when I didn’t drink much? Could I have played longer if I had had to?”
- Use an app. There are many applications out there to remind kids to drink water! If kids do not have a phone, parents should set it on their phones and when the reminder goes off it’s water party time!
- Investing in a cool water bottle is another great idea. Going online or to a sports shop and finding one you’ll love and won’t mind taking with you is a great way to promote hydration and putting the water control in their power and is also a bit more eco-friendly than using plastic bottles.
What about the children that don’t like it, complain, and you feel like its worse than pulling teeth to get the water down? Empower them. Ask them about solutions. Could you cut the water with a little pure orange, cherry or apple juice? Or a sports drink? Too much sugar is not really beneficial, but adding a little flavor is no problem at all and with all of their activity, it can actually be helpful. After they get in the habit of it and see how their game responds when they are hydrated, less and less juice will be needed.
When kids head back to school, there is no reason to halt water intake. Continue with the morning routine and find a cool water bottle (that they pick! Again, check out Bkr, super cool!) and have them head off to school with it. Have them try to fill it up after every class, or have the younger ones see if they can drink 1 bottle before recess, another before lunch, and another before dismissal. Of course, it depends on the size of the bottle but there are some great kid-friendly and teenage friendly options.
Oh, and just a reminder: In the beginning, drinking water throughout the day might seem like a hassle, one more thing to think about. But like every routine, once you get into the swing of it, it will become second nature. And, just like you brush your teeth every morning, you will start to reach for that important (and refreshing!) glass of water!