Summer is the perfect time to play pickleball. Longer days and warm evenings mean you don’t have to wait for the weekend to get to the court. However, as you play in the summer heat, you may find that you’re sweating more than usual.
The amount of water you lose during strenuous exercise is enhanced in warmer temperatures as your body has to fight harder to keep a consistent core temperature. According to a recent study on Physiology and Thermal Regulation, “During strenuous exercise, the temperature (of the body) can rise temporarily to as high as 40°C or 104°F.” Consequently, it’s easy to overheat and suffer from heatstroke, particularly when playing outdoor pickleball matches when the sun is directly overhead.
How do we combat the summer sun, avoid dehydration, and still enjoy our favorite sport? If you guessed drinking water, you’re right! But how much water should you drink?
The answer isn’t the same for everyone. Age, weight, fitness level, how long you play, and other factors can affect how much water you need. However, some research-backed calculations can help you figure out how much water to prepare to take with you to the court to stay properly hydrated.
Maintaining Water and Electrolyte Balance
As our friendly neighborhood pickleball trainer Brady explains, maintaining water and electrolyte balance is important to optimize your performance on the pickleball court.
Calculating How Much Water You Need
The old saying “drink 6-8 glasses of water per day” isn’t accurate as it ignores body weight, one of the most important factors for determining how much water you need.
To calculate how much water you need based on weight without factoring in activity level, multiply your weight in pounds by 0.5 to get the amount (in ounces) of water you need daily.
- If you weigh 150lbs, you would calculate 150 x 0.5 = 75 ounces
- If you weigh 200lbs, you would calculate 200 x 0.5 = 100 ounces
Once you determine your baseline water requirements, you must then factor in your activity level. Athletes and pickleball players need to drink more water than their sedentary counterparts.
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, it is vital to add 12 ounces of water per 30 minutes of exercise.
Example 1: For a person weighing 150 lbs who will play pickleball for 60 minutes, they require 75 ounces (per body weight) + 12 ounces per every 30 minutes of physical activity.
75 + 60/30 x 12 = 99 ounces of water needed per day
Example 2: For a person weighing 200 lbs who will play pickleball for 90 minutes, they require 100 ounces + 12 ounces per every 30 minutes of physical activity.
100 + 90/30 x 12 = 136 ounces of water needed per day
Special Considerations for Adjusting Fluid Levels
- According to the American Pregnancy Association, athletes who are breastfeeding or pregnant should consume an additional 24 – 32 oz of water daily to maintain proper hydration levels.
- How hot the ambient temperature is can affect how much water you need. On particularly hot days, you may need to increase your water level to compensate for the additional sweat lost through perspiration.
- Monitor your urine throughout the day to determine your hydration level. Urine should be clear or pale yellow. If you notice it is darkening in color, it is a sign that you should drink more water.
- Those who drink primarily caffeinated beverages may need to moderately increase their intake of water to counter the diuretic effects of caffeine.
How to Stay Hydrated on the Pickleball Court
One of the best ways to stay hydrated is to pre-hydrate! This means you will begin hydrating your body before you get on the court. Several hours before playing, you will want to drink more water alongside what you regularly eat and drink so your body has time to enable fluid absorption.
Pack a Water Bottle
Don’t forget to bring water with you when you play pickleball. It’s important to drink during matches and immediately after to stay hydrated and help keep your body cool. If you enjoy cold water, bring a cooler or purchase an insulated cup to encourage consumption.
What About Electrolytes?
You may have heard of electrolytes in conjunction with athletes staying hydrated, and for good reason! Hydration is important for keeping the body running, but to maintain optimal fluid levels, a balance of electrolytes is also needed.
Electrolytes are positively or negatively charged ions that help conduct signals throughout the body and control anaerobic activity (sweating) and muscle contractions. Pickleball players lose electrolytes by sweating, and these electrolytes should be replenished.
The most important electrolytes athletes need are sodium, potassium, and magnesium.
How to Maintain Electrolyte Balance
Prior to playing pickleball, you may wish to drink a beverage that contains electrolytes, such as a sports drink or pickle juice, or eat a small salty snack.
While playing pickleball, take breaks periodically to hydrate. Add an electrolyte powder to your water or alternate between a low-sugar sports drink and water to maintain electrolyte balance.
Post-workout, it is important to balance your water intake with a small amount of food or liquids that contain electrolytes. Electrolytes come in many forms, including gels, chews, and salty foods, so you can find an option that works for you.
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