Hydration Guidelines for Youth Athletes


Knowing whether or not your youth athlete is hydrated is essential for their well being. At The Athlete's Parent we understand that in order to raise successful athletes, we must first and foremost raise healthy athletes. According to Dr. Troy Smurawa, Director of Pediatric Sports Medicine, Children’s Health Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, "Contrary to previous thinking, recent research has found children and adults have similar physiological responses when exercising under the same conditions, and children are able to tolerate and adapt to the heat as well as adults when adequate hydration is maintained."

Ensuring that our youth athletes are achieving "adequate hydration" is the topic at hand. Below, are Hydration Guidelines provided by Dr. Smurawa.

Hydration Guidelines:

Daily Fluid Requirements: 4- to 8-year-old children need about 7.5 cups of fluid per day (1.8 L/day) 9- to 13-year-old females need about 9 cups of fluid per day (2.1 L/day) 9- to 13-year-old males need about 10 cups of fluid per day (2.4 L/day) 14- to 18-year-old females need about 10 cups of fluid per day (2.4 L/day) 14- to 18-year-old males need about 14 cups of fluid per day (3.3 L/day)

Hydration requirements for exercise: Generally, 100 to 250 ml (approximately 3-8 oz) of fluids every 20 minutes for

9- to 12-year-olds Generally, 250 to 500 ml (approximately 8-16 oz) of fluids every 20 minutes for 12- to 18-year-olds

Guidelines for children ages 6-12 years:

Before Sports Drinking fluids prior to exercise appears to reduce or delay the detrimental effects of dehydration. • 1 to 2 hours before sports: 4 to 8 ounces of cold water • 10 to 15 minutes before sports: 4 to 8 ounces of cold water

During Sports • Every 20 minutes: 5 to 9 ounces of water or a sports drink, depending on weight • (5 for a child weighing 88 pounds; 9 ounces for a child weighing 132 pounds)

After Sports • Post-exercise hydration should aim to correct any fluid lost during the practice. • Weigh your child before and after activity, and within two hours replace at least 24 ounces of water or a sports drink for every pound of weight lost.

Guidelines for children ages 13-18 years:

Before Sports Drinking fluids prior to exercise appears to reduce or delay the detrimental effects of dehydration. • 1 to 2 hours before sports: 8 to 16 ounces of cold water • 10 to 15 minutes before sports: 8 to 12 ounces of cold water

During Sports • Every 20 minutes: Between 8 and 16 ounces of water or sports drink, depending on weight

After Sports • Post-exercise hydration should aim to correct any fluid lost during the practice. • Within two hours: at least 24 ounces of water or a sports drink for every pound of weight lost

Water is sufficient to maintain adequate hydration for events lasting less than one hour.

Events lasting longer than one hour or repeated same-day sessions warrant including electrolyte-supplemented beverages with sodium.

Preconditioning and acclimatization is important for children of all ages, ideally 10-14 days.

Read More Articles by Dr. Smurawa regarding youth athletes:

Soccer Injury Prevention and Treatment

Surviving Two-A-Day or Prolonged Practices

Dr. Troy Smurawa

Board-certified in both pediatrics and sports medicine, Dr. Troy Smurawa is the director of pediatric sports medicine at the Children’s Health Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine in Plano, Texas. Dr. Smurawa earned his medical degree from The University of Texas Health Science Center and did his residency in pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin. He completed a sports medicine fellowship at Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Akron, Ohio.

Call: 469-303-3000

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