Your team is up by a goal late in the third period against your rival. Both teams are exhausted from an intense and physically demanding game. A teammate just committed a penalty, putting your team shorthanded while giving your rival an opportunity to tie the game. While in the neutral zone you attempt to clear the puck but it takes a bad bounce, creating a turnover. The opposing team converts the turnover with a two-on-one breakaway. The urgency to protect the lead becomes overwhelming. You start digging your skates deep into the ice (trying hard to prevent the rush) but your legs feel like a 30 lb weight is dragging you down. Your defenseman plays the skater with the puck, leaving the other skater to accept a wide open pass. Trying to catch up to the play you desperately throw yourself to the ice, trying to disrupt the pass with your stick stretched out in front of you. You’re a second late as the pass makes it to the opponents stick, into our net, tying the game, and creating a momentum shift in the game.
We have all been in that similar situation as stress and exhaustion kick in and our body does not perform as we want it to. You have trouble seeing the puck clearly, your skating and reaction time are slower, and you just can’t seem to find that competitive edge for that big play. Hockey is a mentally and physically demanding game. It is very important to condition your body so you will be able to handle skating 30 to 80 second all-out shifts throughout a game. With the weight of the pads and the amount of you sweat, the average player can drop 3-10 lbs of fluid per game. Studies show with as little as 2% dehydration, athletes experience up to a 10% decline in performance. Therefore, properly hydrating yourself on and off the ice is very important. It is good to gain a better understanding of our bodies, what we put in it, and how to maximize our performance potential every time you hit the ice.
So how do we properly hydrate ourselves to allow our body to maximize our athletic potential? First you must understand how different types of beverages affect our body.
What drinks are best for hockey?
Drinking water is always a win-win situation for keeping yourself properly hydrated. It hydrates the body better than any other liquid before and during physical exercise. Additionally, it has no calories.
Sports drinks, like Gatorade and PowerAde, are another excellent source for staying hydrated. Drinking sports drinks is a step down, in comparison to water, but provides the right combination of water, salt, and sugars, to better keep you hydrated. The salt in sports drinks creates the sensation of thirst, making you want to drink more which keeps you hydrated. When we exercise, our body loses electrolytes. Sports drinks have carbohydrates and electrolytes which replace what we lost, leading to better perspiration. One down side to sports drinks is if you drink too much, it can damage the kidneys. This is caused due to the salt in sports drinks.
While juice tastes great and is very nutritious, it is not the best choice. The amount of fructose (fruit sugar) reduces the rate of water absorption so cells do not hydrate as quickly.
Although very appealing to the for the quick energy fix, energy drinks are not the best option to drink for demanding physical exercise. Caffeine and sugar are the main ingredients to energy drinks, which is used as an effective central nervous system stimulant and increases alertness. The high levels of caffeine and sugar found in energy drinks can cause nervousness, headache, increased blood pressure and elevated heart rate. And when playing ice hockey, which already elevates the heart rate due to a high demand of physical activity, it could create complications for your body. A study of energy drink users found, 29% experienced energy 'jolts' and then crash episodes, 22% experienced headaches and 19% reported heart palpitations.
Carbonated Soft Drinks (Sodas/Pop)
Although cheap in price, and refreshing in taste, carbonated drinks are not good for your body. Sodas do provide a quick energy boost. But due to its high sugar and caffeine, sodas decrease the speed at which water is absorbed in your cells. Acids are used to carbonate and add flavor to the beverage, which damage teeth and may weaken bones, leading to bone fractures and osteoporosis.
Coffee and tea act as a diuretic, which cause kidneys to pull water from the body. This process increases urination, while sabotaging the hydration process. Not a good combination, especially when your body loses as much fluids while playing ice hockey.
Milk is best to drink after practices and games as it is as good as, or better than, sports drinks in assisting your body’s recovery process. The amount of protein in milk is great for your muscles. U.S. Olympian swimmer, Michael Phelps, stated he drank chocolate milk in between races during the 2004 and 2008 Olympics.
How Can I Tell If I'm Hydrated Enough For Ice Hockey?
How do you know if you are drinking enough? Feeling thirsty is not a good indicator - monitoring your urine is. This urine color test can help to guide you.
If you are experience cramps, it is likely due to dehydration. Or if you experience salty sweat (your undershirts will form white residue from your sweat), it is due to lack of sodium in your body. A way to resolve that is by adding a ½ teaspoon of salt to a liter of your drink.
Staying hydrated is very important to anyone partaking in any athletic activities. It is important to get enough fluids before competition and training and rehydrating after exercise to aid recovery.