Therefore, it's critical for young athletes to monitor and maintain adequate fluid balance to prevent dehydration to sustain normal cardiovascular and thermoregulatory functions required for exercise performance," Mangieri says.
Adequate hydration is essential to optimal athletic performance, and the most effective way to ensure hydration is to utilize pre- and postexercise weight measurements to determine and replace fluid loss.5 Symptoms of dehydration include noticeable thirst, irritability, fatigue, weakness, nausea, headache, muscle cramping, dizziness or lightheadedness, dark yellow urine or no desire to urinate, difficulty paying attention, and decreased performance.
In youth tennis and soccer tournaments, rest between bouts may be 30 minutes or less.
In typical outdoor youth soccer tournaments, complete rest and rehydration are less likely to occur due to tournament organization and unavailability of cool settings.7 Previous same-day athletic training or competition without adequate time for rest and rehydration can affect performance and increase risk of heat-related illness.The Latest Guidelines In 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) updated its policy statement on hydration in relation to climate stress for young athletes (see sidebar below).Currently, the policy statement is the only guideline from a professional medical organization that specifically addresses child and adolescent athletes.Internationally recognized for his research and leadership in exercise-heat stress and youth athletic health, Bergeron was one of the lead authors of the AAP Policy Statement and has provided individualized and sport-specific training and nutrition/hydration guidance for many young athletes and youth athletic organizations.In the first study of repeated-bout strenuous exercise in healthy competitive youth soccer athletes, Bergeron and colleagues found that one hour of complete rest, cool down, and rehydration following 80 minutes of strenuous exercise equivalent to a soccer game generally was effective in eliminating residual strain and dehydration during a second exercise session.Incomplete rehydration and a sodium deficit can prompt lower heat tolerance, greater cardiovascular and thermal strain, and reduced performance, as well as an increased risk of muscle cramping during the next game," Bergeron says.There's still a need for governing bodies of youth sports to address this issue and provide more specific, evidence-based guidelines for minimum rest periods between same-day competitive events for youth sports tournaments, he says.8 Prehydration for Performance Given the importance of hydration for optimal athletic performance, being properly hydrated before practices and competitions also is essential.In children, the negative effects of fluid loss begin to occur at a 1% decrease in body weight.5 The negative effect on athletic performance in child athletes isn't well researched, and the adverse effects likely are due to decreases in cardiovascular system functioning, thermoregulation, and central fatigue, says Heather Mangieri, RDN, CSSD, a sports dietitian in Pittsburgh and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (the Academy)."Scientific research regarding fluid turnover or specific fluid needs for active children is limited.Treating symptoms of dehydration is crucial in preventing the progression to heat exhaustion.2 However, children and adolescents may not be aware of these symptoms, or they may be attributed to physical exertion associated with the sport itself.Additionally, young athletes often are excited or distracted during competitions and don't think to rehydrate during recovery periods.4 "Children in athletics haven't yet learned the initial signs of thirst, and therefore, tend to ignore signs of extreme thirst due to excitement or distraction, says Jim White, RD, CPT, ACSM, a spokesperson for the Academy.