Sports Drinks For Youth Football Players
So are sports drinks better than water for youth football players?
Yes and no.
Sports drinks like Gatorade and others are flavored fluids fortified with electrolytes, potassium and sodium, all which are lost by the body during intense exercise. However, its is unlikely according to most experts that the loss of your bodies stores of these minerals is anything to worry about unless you are doing intense workouts of 3-5 hours or longer. In the long intensity activities of 3-5+ hours, the athlete can be at risk for overhydration called hypoantremia, due to drinking excess water without proper sodium replacement.
For youth football player practicing 2-2 1/2 hours at a time, the biggest danger seems to come from not drinking enough fluids. Numerous studies have shown that kids will drink more of a sport drink that normal water. So compared to water, sports drinks are better as the player will stop drinking water much sooner than a sports drink.
Youth football players should drink at least 16 ounces of fluids at least 2 hours before the activity and another 48 ounces during a typical 2 hour practice.
Energy drinks should be avoided. Anything with caffeine like Red Bull will give your youth football player a quick buzz and burst of energy, as Red Bull has the amount of caffeine equal to about 2 cups of coffee. But the energy buzz is very short lived and the player is then left in a lethargic state. The caffeine actually acts as a diuretic and robs the body of fluids, adding to the dehydration caused by heavy activity. Make sure your parents know this and do not allow their kids to use these types of drinks before, during or even after practices.
Numerous scientific studies have shown that a well hydrated player will play with greater intensity, speed and with much higher concentration levels than a poorly hydrated player.
Make sure your players are well hydrated. Ask them to bring water bottles or jugs with their names on them to make your breaks flow smoother and to avoid confusion. Its usually pretty hot for most of us during that first month of practice, this can be a life or death situation for some players. Always error on the side of safety. Dont neglect to push fluid replacement even during cold weather games in November, something many youth football coaches forget about.
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