How to Identify a Dehydrated Youth Athlete

2012-02-08T02:56:04-05:00Health & Safety, Protecting Your Kids|

Dehydration is a serious concern for youth athletes, especially younger players that haven’t developed the self-discipline needed to push themselves to drink enough water. Sports parents and coaches can always remind a player to drink, but even with mandatory water breaks youth athletes might not be getting enough fluids to replace what they’ve lost during a practice or a game. Dehydration can sneak up on a player before they even realize they are in trouble, especially in the winter when dehydration is accelerated because of the dry air.

As a youth sports coach, parent or administrator, you have to be able to recognize the signs of dehydration in your youth athlete before they push themselves too far. Here are some signs that a player is dehydrated:

Signs of mild to moderate dehydration:

  • Dry, sticky mouth
  • Thirst
  • Decreased urine output
  • Dry skin
  • Headache
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness

Signs of severe dehydration: 

  • Extreme thirst
  • Lack of sweating
  • Little or no urination
  • Sunken eyes
  • Shriveled and dry skin
  • Low blood pressure
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Rapid breathing

Youth athletes are especially susceptible to dehydration because they typically weigh less than adult athletes and a smaller body weight means the same amount of water loss will have a greater effect on their health. The longer a youth athlete is active the more water they are going to lose and the harder it will be to stay consistently hydrated. Coaches and parents should be especially careful during all-day tournaments since teams are playing multiple games with minimal downtime in between.

Sometimes a team’s schedule is so tight they barely have time to grab a snack before their next game, which also increases their chance of dehydration and other negative health consequences. If you need a few ideas of what kind of snacks you should bring to your next sports tournament to keep your players hydrated and full, check out this blog post.  

For more information about dehydration, check out this helpful guide created by the Mayo Clinic.