Maintaining ideal hydration and nutrition levels requires attention before, during and after exercise. This helps reduce fatigue and ensures enough energy to play the game.
Thirst is not a good indicator of fluid needs during rugby. For your players to be at their peak, you should ensure that they are aware of, and observe, the following hydration guidelines:
- Pre-hydrate! Drink fluids before starting a training session or competition game - half a litre two hours before exercise.
- Drink small amounts where possible throughout the game e.g. breaks in play, injury breaks, time-outs, rests and half time - approximately 120-150ml per 10-15 mins during exercise.
- Increase fluid intake in hot and humid conditions.
- Drink sports drinks (4-8% carbohydrate) during activity lasting longer than one hour.
- Alcohol and caffeinated energy drinks immediately after exercise.
- Sharing drink bottles between players so that flu, meningitis, hepatitis and other infections don’t spread between players.
1 litre per hour for three hours.
You continue sweating after you stop exercising so you need to keep your fluids up.
Equally important to hydration is the need to ensure your players are eating the right foods to maintain sufficient energy levels. If players have any doubts about their food intake, if they are vegetarian or have low energy intakes, recommend that they talk to a dietician to make sure they are meeting all their energy requirements.
- Ensure that over half the food intake comes from carbohydrate-based foods (potatoes, pasta, bread, rice, cereals, bananas).
- Increase the intake of carbohydrate foods a few days before playing.
- Ensure the diet contains at least 15% protein (eggs, fish, meat, chicken, shakes) to help repair damage to body tissues after contact training and matches.
- Supplements are exactly that: they don’t replace a balanced diet.
- Eat six smaller meals spaced through the day rather than three big ones.
- Eat some protein and carbohydrates immediately following training to enhance recovery.
- Foods high in fat before and during exercise.