Coaches Corner – Summer is Coming

Now summer is upon us, CRNZ coach Tim Brabants offers his sage words of advice to all paddlers.

Spring has sprung! Fair weather paddlers are dusting off their gear and getting back to the water. Brits like me will spend even more time than ever talking about the weather whilst drinking tea!

With my medical hat on as well as my performance coaching role, now is good time to remember the importance of being prepared for training and coaching in the warmer weather. Sun hats, sun cream and hydration. 

Firstly, hydration. A dehydrated athlete with 2-3% loss of body weight in the form of water can experience up to a 45% loss in the capacity to perform high-intensity exercise. Researchers have found that even sitting at a desk can lead to dehydration without visible sweating or exercise. Imagine what that means for your athletes pushing their bodies to the limits out in the elements.

Dehydration causes a cascade of problems: It reduces your overall blood volume which decreases sweat rate and increases the work your heart muscle to circulate blood. Your temperature regulation is then also negatively affected, resulting in elevated core temperature. Finally your muscles use up glycogen stores more rapidly too, so you fatigue faster. Not to mention the reduction in cognitive function too. 

Proper hydration and electrolyte balance optimises your athletes physical condition to cope with the heat and training through proper muscle and nerve function. The heart will work more efficiently and the brain will think more clearly.

A simple way to monitor hydration is through checking body weight daily, as well as before and after sessions. Look for how much body weight is lost during a long session – this is water loss. Also encourage your athletes to notice the colour of their wee. A light straw colour reflects adequate hydration. 

Water is a reasonable starting point for staying hydrated. Consider simple electrolyte mixes available from supermarkets too, these help keep a good balance. Always check the ingredients and ensure they are safe to be used from a drug free sport perspective. 

Just like in my previous post, don’t neglect yourself as a coach with staying hydrated and protected from the glorious weather. Follow the same principles and set a good example to your athletes and colleagues. 

For a really good fact sheet on hydration during sport, have a look here

Image: Vera Bucsu