Drinking water is essential to a healthy lifestyle. — Steph Curry


Tight on time? Stick with the 3 Key Takeaways and The Basics. These will provide your athletes with a solid foundation for understanding hydration.

Have more time? Share the TrueSport Talk and discuss how an Olympic athlete can relate to this lesson.

Extra time? Continue on through to Tips & Applications for more valuable information to share with your group.

Looking for more? Explore the Downloads & Additional Resources, which offer additional conversation starters and fun physical activities to support each lesson.

3 Key Takeaways

The Basics

What does staying hydrated do for your body?

Proper hydration is critical for athletes that want to feel and perform their best. Water is the easiest and most affordable way to hydrate, and it:

  • Improves athletic performance and reduces recovery time
  • Helps every system in the body function better
  • Minimizes risk of injury and muscle cramping
  • Better regulates the body’s temperature Among many other benefits.

Conversely, when an athlete becomes dehydrated they experience:

  • Headaches, fatigue, and loss of concentration
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness and weakness

And many other symptoms which can all compromise performance and impair cognitive functioning.

TrueSport Talk

Watch this TrueSport talk with Jessica Long or read the lesson aloud

Paralympic swimmer Jessica Long knows a thing or two about peak performance. Before her 25th birthday, Jessica had already won 13 gold medals at the Paralympics and 10 at the IPC World Championships.

Even though Jessica swims in water, she still sweats and needs to drink plenty of fluids. To stay properly hydrated, she suggests keeping the following three things in mind:

  1. Hydrating with water when exercising for 60 minutes or less
  2. For longer activities, consider adding sports drinks or fruit to replace carbohydrates and electrolytes
  3. For better absorption and recovery, drink water along with eating some food after exercising

The first thing Jessica does when she gets to the pool is fill up her water bottle—during difficult practices, she can drink up to three full bottles. The last thing she does is wait until she feels thirsty, a habit that helps her stay on top of her hydration.

Staying hydrated is more than just what you are drinking and how much, but also when. Proper hydration begins long before the first whistle, and is just as important after the game or practice is over.

TrueSport Talk Questions

1. What was the main point you took away from Jessica’s words?

2. Were you surprised to hear that swimmers like Jessica need to hydrate even though they are often in the water?

3. Besides your coach providing water breaks, how can you take responsibility for your own hydration while playing sports and in your normal everyday life?

Tips & Applications

Hydration 101

Athletes lose water through four ways in particular. When experiencing any of them, it’s especially important to be rehydrating.

Long Exercise: Exercising for hours (like in endurance sports) means an even greater need to replace lost fluids, electrolytes, and nutrients. For these instances, sports drinks designed to replace the sodium lost through sweat can also be helpful.

Sweating: Some athletes sweat more than others. If an athlete sweats a large amount, they are at greater risk for dehydration. Encourage athletes (if they can) to weigh themselves before and after practice, and to drink at least 2-3 cups of water per pound lost during exercise.

Temperature: Exercising in the heat increases the amount of fluid lost through sweating. Exercising in the cold can impair the ability to recognize fluid loss and increase the amount of fluid lost through respiration. In both cases, it’s important to hydrate.

High altitude: Exercising at higher altitudes increases fluid losses and the need to drink more water.

How Much To Drink

Staying hydrated isn’t rocket science, but there are some general rules of thumb that will help athletes stay properly hydrated before, during, and after exercise:

Before exercise: Drink 16 ounces of fluid two hours before physical activity and another 8-16 ounces 15 minutes prior to exercising.

During exercise: Every 15-20 minutes, drink at least 4 to 6 ounces (about two to three big gulps) of fluid during vigorous exercise. Amounts may be less for moderate exercise.

After exercise: Drink 6 to 24 ounces of fluid for every pound lost during physical activity. Drinking rehydrating beverages (like sports drinks) with electrolytes and carbohydrates and eating watery foods, such as fruits and vegetables, can help replace lost fluids and electrolytes.

How Athletes Can Tell If They Are Properly Hydrated

There are many symptoms of dehydration athletes should learn to look out for: nausea, headaches, feeling fatigued, vomiting, muscle cramps, increased temperature and heart rate, and a general decrease in athletic performance.

But there’s an easier, more pain-free way for athletes to tell if they are hydrated: the urine test. Encourage athletes to monitor the color of their urine throughout the day. By the afternoon, their urine should be of a light lemonade color. Anything darker is a sign that the athlete needs to drink more water.

Downloads & Additional Resources:

Lesson Companion (PDF)
Printable version of the online lesson: Away from the computer or internet access? Print out and use this handout that’s identical to the online lesson.

Chalk Talk (PDF)
15-minute activity: Test your athletes’ knowledge about hydration by leading a discussion with these conversation starters.

Review (PDF)
10-minute quiz: Test your athletes’ knowledge of hydration best practices with this quick review(answers included).

Hydration Tracking (PDF)
10-minute activity: Have your athletes track their fluid intake over the course of a day or longer, then set appropriate hydration goals based on the results.

Daily Recommendation Activity (PDF)
20-minute activity: Help your athletes visualize the minimum amount of water they should be drinking daily.

TrueSport Certificate (PDF)
Lesson Certificate: Celebrate your groups’ completion of the TrueSport Hydration lesson with this special certificate.

Hydration: Parent Handout (PDF)
Handout: Learn the importance of regularly hydrating and how to recognize the signs of dehydration.

Hydration: Athlete Handout (PDF)
Handout: Have your athletes learn the basics of proper hydration and how to calculate the right amount of water to be drinking daily.

Please fill out the form and we’ll send you an email with the Hydration Lesson Assets.