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Beat the Heat and Dehydration During Summer Baseball/Softball

Beat the Heat and Dehydration During Summer Baseball/Softball

Beat the Heat and Dehydration During Summer Baseball/Softball

 PBSCCS consulted with several sports nutritionists and developed the following information for players, parents and coaches on baseball and softball teams that are competing in summer practice sessions and games.

Coaches, parents and players know that hydrated athletes perform better and feel better than dehydrated athletes. This article will explain how important hydration is for young athletes, how a lack of fluids can negatively impact health and performance and provide general guidelines for proper hydration.

Why is hydration important? Research indicates that when an athlete loses more than 2% of his or her body weight, athletic performance drastically decreases and the risk of heat-related illness increases. The body is primarily water. About 60% of adult today body weight and 70% of muscle weight is composed of water. These values are slightly less for women and children. The reason performance is impaired by small fluid deficits is because a decrease in fluids leads to a decrease in blood plasma volume. Since fluids/plasm is how the body delivers oxygen to the working muscles, any reduction could hamper performance. NOTE: The sensation of thirst is not a reliable index of dehydration. Performance is negatively affected before thirst is triggered because the sensation of thirst occurs when the water deficit is approximately 2% of body mass. This means that players should start drinking well before they feel thirsty!

What are the signs of dehydration? Dehydration during exercise occurs when you lose more fluid via sweat than you drink. Sweating during activities like baseball and softball brings heat from the muscles to the skin. The evaporation of the sweat off the skin is how the body releases heat.  If you don’t replace the fluid, you sweat out, you will gradually become dehydrated. Evaporation is limited in hot, humid environments and the risk of dehydration is significantly increase. A dehydrated athlete may experience the some of the following symptoms that the cardiovascular system is working harder than it has to, a problem that can be resolved by increasing fluid intake:

  • Fatigue earlier than usual

  • Decreased performance

  • Poor attention and decision making

  • Dizziness and headaches

  • Dry mouth

  • Muscle cramps

  • Increased thirst

  • Disorientation

  • Heat illness

 General fluid requirements

  • Fluids should be cold, palatable and selected on the duration of activity

  • Sports drinks should contain no more than 4-8% carbohydrate (Gatorade, PowerAde, etc. are approximately 6%; soft drinks and juices are 12% and not suitable for hydration

  • Energy drinks that contain caffeine and carbonated drinks are discouraged because they stimulate excess urine production which can lead to dehydration

  • Water is acceptable for activity of less than 1-hour in duration; sports drinks are recommended for longer duration activity and high-intensity effort in the heat

Pre-exercise guidelines

  • Start early – hydration should begin the first thing in the morning and continue all day long, every day

  • Drink about 3 cups of water after brushing teeth to jump start hydration. Start with 1 cup and gradually build up tolerance

  • Drink 1 cup (8 oz) of water, milk, tea, etc. with each meal

  • Drink 16-24 oz (2-3 cups) of fluid 2 hours before practice and games

  • Drink 8-16 oz (1-2 cups) of fluid 15-20 minutes before practice and games

  • On war or humid days, drink an additional 8-16 oz (1-2 cups) 30-60 minutes before activity

During exercise guidelines

  • Water is OK for activity of less than 60 minutes duration; sports drinks for longer activity

  • Teens drink 6-12 oz of fluid between innings; younger kids drink 3-8 oz

  • Keep a water bottle on the bench

Post-exercise guidelines

  • Immediately after activity, drink at least 16-20 oz (2-2.5 cups) of fluid for every pound of body weight lost

  • A liquid shake with high carbohydrate content, minimal protein and fat, consumed immediately post-activity can help refuel energy stores and maximize recovery after practice between tournament games

  • Drink 16 oz (2 cups) of fluid with post activity meal; meal should be consumed within 2 hours after activity

  • Weigh yourself first thing every morning. A fairly stable weight generally indicates proper fluid balance

  • Oranges are not just for soccer. They are a great pre- and post-workout fluid because they are a source of quick digesting carbohydrates and also hydrating

Check your urine (see chart at end of article)

  • Monitor your urine color prior to practice and games

  • Proper hydration – urine is light yellow or clear

  • Dehydration – urine is darker color and possibly lower in volume

  • Light lemonade – hydrated

  • Darker urine – drink more water

Coaches, parents and umpires

  • Proper hydration is not just for the players. Mild dehydration is one of the most common causes of daytime fatigue. An estimated 75% of Americans have mild, chronic dehydration


  1. Bergeron, M.F., Hydration in the Pediatric Athlete – How to Guide Your Patients.Curr Sports Med Rep, 2015. 14(4): p. 288-93.

  2. American College of Sports, M., et al., American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Exercise and fluid replacement.Med Sci Sports Exerc, 2007. 39(2): p. 377-90.

  3. Thomas, D.T., K.A. Erdman, and L.M. Burke, American College of Sports Medicine Joint Position Statement. Nutrition and Athletic Performance.Med Sci Sports Exerc, 2016. 48(3): p. 543-68.

  4. Shi, X., et al., Effects of carbohydrate type and concentration and solution osmolality on water absorption.Med Sci Sports Exerc, 1995. 27(12): p. 1607-15.


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