After a short break, The PEP Talk is back! Following a request from SoccerReviews writer Jordon, today’s focus is on hydration. Water is the foundation, the cornerstone, of the human anatomy. Water lubricates joints and eyes, helps to regulate body temperature and is the medium in which most bodily reactions occur, for example respiration. So as you can see, water really is absolutely vital to being healthy and performing well. Carry on reading more to find out exactly what you should consider to incorporate the correct daily routine of water consumption into your life.
Now, since The PEP Talk is geared around improving your performance, we’ll start with the amount of water to drink pre-game! You want to start drinking more water than usual the day before a game. The general aim is to drink enough to ensure your urine is clear. This will vary from person to person. Age, gender and activity level will cause the amount of water required to be hydrated to fluctuate. The general rule of thumb would be three litres though throughout the day.
However, try to avoid following this guideline about three hours prior to your bedtime. This is to avoid being awoken in the night because you need to go to the toilet. On the morning before the game, you need to really ramp up the water consumption. I’d recommend (from research and personal experiments) you need to be sipping water every 5 minutes. A sip would consist of one reasonable swallow, not a gulp. I really would not recommend drinking lots and lots of water at one time as it’ll lead to bloating, which is definitely something you want to avoid pre-game! Again, you need to aim for about three litres, but in little, frequent sips.
One little word of warning however, you should ease up on the drinking about 45 minutes before the game to avoid any stomach cramps. Once you reach this stage, aim to consume water at 15 minute intervals. This of course can be transferred across to training sessions. However, the recommended 3 litres of water is to hydrate you for 90 minutes of football! If your training sessions are long/shorter, than you need to accommodate for this.
A little tip I’d like to throw in, is that training is for training EVERYTHING about your game. So not only your football skills, but your nutrition and hydration. Training is the perfect time to get your body to acclimatise to regularly sipping water throughout playing football. As previously mentioned, aim for about 50ml every 15 minutes. At first this may cause a bit of discomfort, especially if you’re running about immediately after consuming water, but you will soon get used to it!
Moving on from before and during a game, we turn our attention onto the most important time of consuming water, AFTER playing. Before I go into detail on this, I would like you to try something. Go weigh yourself in kilograms. Once you’ve done that, take heed of this little tip. Weigh yourself before and after every game or training session. For example, I weigh 65kg before the game, and 63kg after the game. What does this mean I hear you ask? Well that 2kg I lost during the game is water loss. The general rule, from a professional footballer I’m friends with, is that for every kg lost in body mass, aim to drink 1 litre of water to compensate after the game. Therefore, I’d aim to get 2 litres of water into my system as soon as possible after a game.
I didn’t mention this in the introduction, but water is also vital for another bodily function. I briefly looked upon it on one of my previous articles, which you can read here, but basically your muscles become full of poisonous toxins during exercise. Don’t worry, they won’t harm you, but your muscles will not be able to recover properly while these toxins are still in your system. Drinking water flushes these toxins out of your system, and allow your muscles to recover quicker. Long story short, you need to repeat what you did the day before the game, after the game! Regularly sipping water after the game will get rid of those toxins that have built up during that long tough game. Again, aim for up to 1 litre post-game, on top of the water you’ve already drunk to replace the body fluids you lost during the game.
The final point to make is how much you are supposed to on a day to day basis. I’ve heard from various sources that ’8 glasses’ of water should suffice. But find this to be hugely misleading. What exactly does 8 glasses mean? How much fluid is there in each glass? It almost annoys me at how misleading it is. So, I’m going to lend you a bit of Premier League advice. Directly from a Professional footballer, he drinks 5 bottles of 500ml water per day.
He also follows a set routine of when he drinks, which is as follows;
- 1 bottle before he leaves the house in the morning
- 1 bottle about mid-morning, for example about 10:30AM
- 1 bottle at lunch time, this one lasts a bit longer till about 3PM however
- From 3-4:30PM he drinks another bottles
- Then after his 5th meal of the day, he finishes the fifth bottle
In total then, this comes to about 2.5 litres of water for an extremely active Professional player. So on average, I’d say 2 litres of water for the average footballer who won’t be training for 3-4 hours a day will suffice. Basically, aim for 4 lots of 500ml bottles.
Now, all this water may lead to you becoming a bit bored of water. So I’ve thought up a few alternatives that can mix up the daily routine a little. First of all, squash and a pinch of salt. I have mentioned this in a previous article, but basically it’s like making your own isotonic drink! Try and avoid sugary squash sources, and stick purely with low-sugar forms of it. This is tasty, and will hydrate you better than a fizzy drink or so on.
The second thing, is tea! Yes, the stereotypical English drink. It offers a minuscule caffeine boost, contains lots of antioxidants and is a very healthy option. Of course, try to avoid dumping lots of sugar in there. But one or two teaspoons worth would be absolutely fine!
Finally, it’s the introduction of that classic carbohydrate drink! Lucozade, Powerade and so on.. It will help replenish your glycogen stores after a training session, reducing any chance of muscle breakdown. It’s also relatively tasty, but is definitely not something you should be drinking primarily. Please note, with each of these variations, you should replace perhaps 1 bottle of 500ml water with one of these. Water should be your primary fluid source! So do not stick purely with squash, or tea. Water is the best thing for you.
So there you have it, when to drink and what to drink on a day-to-day basis! Follow these basic guidelines and within a week or two, you’ll be noticing an increase in energy levels, performance and happiness! It might sound silly, but water really does influence everything in your body. The average person is constantly dehydrated, leading to headaches and the like. As footballers, you should aim to avoid this. What do you usually drink? How much do you drink? Leave your thoughts on the article in the comments section, on Facebook or drop us a tweet on Twitter!