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How Much Water Should I Drink Before a Basketball Game?

Dehydration threatens a basketball player's speed, endurance and overall performance, but many athletes don't recognize the symptoms of dehydration until it's too late. As little as a 2 percent decrease in body weight from fluids lost through sweat can lead to dehydration, which shuts down muscles and magnifies fatigue. However, as a basketball player, you can defeat dehydration by preparing with proper hydration habits, beginning hours before you step on the court or break a sweat.

Dangers of Dehydration

Water comprises approximately 75 percent of the body's muscle tissue, but high-intensity exercise cuts into the body's reservoir of fluids as it cools the skin through sweat. During intense exercise, blood is redirected toward active muscles, delivering oxygen and nutrients, and to the skin to maintain a normal body temperature. When an athlete is dehydrated by even 2 percent of her normal fluid level, her blood volume drops, leading to decreased blood flow to muscles and rising body temperatures. A dehydrated athlete may also experience symptoms such as headaches, muscle cramps and lack of concentration.

Regular Hydration

As a basketball players, make hydration an all-day, everyday habit, not just a part of your pre-game routine. Basketball players lose 2 to 3 quarts of fluid on average during a game, but don't replace all of those fluids at once. Instead take small, slow sips of water and drink no more than 8 oz. at a time, preventing your bladder from filling past its capacity. Regular hydration should cause you to need to urinate every 1 to 2 hours, and your urine color should be clear or a light yellow, not a darker color, which signals dehydration.

Pre-Game Hydration

In the 2 to 3 hours before tip-off, drink 15 to 20 oz. of water or sports drink, ensuring you are properly hydrated when your step on the floor. Sports drinks supply your body with carbohydrates and nutrients depleted during lengthy exercise sessions of an hour or more, making them ideal for strenuous practice or a tournament in which you will play multiple games. However, for a regulation game lasting less than an hour, water can adequately hydrates you and is easier for your to digest.

Last-Minute Hydration

As tip-off time approaches, top off your reserve of fluids by drinking another 8 to 10 oz. 15 to 30 minutes prior to the game. During this time, avoid drinking fluids such as coffee, tea or sugary, carbonated soft drinks. Caffeinated drinks such as coffee or tea dehydrate muscles, while soft drinks can cause sudden spikes in blood sugar and upset your stomach with its air bubbles.

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About the Author

Andrew Reiner has covered scholastic and collegiate sports since 2007. He has written for "The Record Delta" in Buckhannon, W.Va., winning first-place awards from the West Virginia Press Association for sports news writing, sports feature writing and sports columnist, among others. Reiner earned a Bachelor of Arts in communications and integrated media from Geneva College in Pennsylvania.

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