5 Professional Hockey Hydration Secrets To Help You Skate Faster

Beat Your Skating Speed by 1.4km per Hour

BEAT YOUR SKATING SPEED BY 1.4km PER HOUR

Science is uncovering some fascinating ways to skate faster. Imagine if one day at practice you drink water based on your thirst and then did the exact same hockey practice a few days later and drank water that matched the water you were losing in your sweat. You might be able to beat your skating speed by 1.4km per hour – according to a recent hydration study such results may be possible for hockey players but we’ll have to do this study on hockey players to know for sure…

The actual study I am referencing was done on sprint cyclists in 2017. Even though the study was on cyclists I like it for hockey players because the sprinters did 3 all-out sprint bouts of 10 minutes which creates a similar experience to what a hockey player’s games are like – 3 periods in a hockey game. According to these results on sprint cyclists, by the 33rd-period sprints, we might see you skate faster. The sprinters in this study either drank water as they wished in preparation for their sprints or were given a hydration plan that matched their sweat losses. The results: the drinking plan that matched their sweat loss made them FASTER! Faster by an average of 1.4km/hour during their 3rd sprint – this result (a 5.1% improved performance) would be enough to beat the competition in a race to the puck in the 3rd period.

Why care about sweat?

Hockey players sweat heavily during practice and competition. When your body has lost more fluid than you’ve consumed, your mental and physical performance suffers. Your heart rate goes up faster, your body temperature is higher, and you will feel like skating faster is just plain harder.

 

What is it about water that is so special?

Since we were babies we have been drinking water in various forms, starting with milk. Unlike food which can take on a million different flavors and contains different nutrients making each one unique, there are much fewer ways to consume water, so we don’t spend nearly as much time thinking about water as we do food. How much time do you spend thinking, should I drink milk or soda water? Probably not much. But did you know athletic bodies are made up of more than 60% water?

Water will help you skate faster but also things with water in them. We call these things fluids: milk, juice, tea, coffee, and other drinks. Water can also be found in most whole foods, with vegetables and fruit containing the most water.

For any athlete, consuming enough fluids is more important than for the average individual, because large amounts are lost through sweat and heavy breathing. The keyword here is ‘enough’. You don’t need to overdo it and drink gallons of water when training or competing, but starting a game or practice with not enough water in your body can impact your performance, and losing too much water increases the risk of nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. No thanks!

This means you want to be drinking regularly 2-4 hours before hockey, and right before, so that you are hydrated enough to skate faster than the competition.

Without getting too advanced, here's a quick start to showing up hydrated:

QUICKIE ADVICE: A player weighing around 100 lb should drink 1-2 cups of water 2 hours before playing, and a player weighing around 150 lb should drink 1.5-2.5 cups of water before playing.

For hydration pros: Aim for 5-10 ml/kg body weight 2 hours before playing.

The other times when drinking fluids is key is of course during our hockey game or practice, so you can continue to play at the level you want to throughout.

You want your body to be in fluid balance at all times, especially after a sweaty hockey game where your body loses liters of water. Each person has different fluid needs for during hockey hydration and recovery hydration.

You can calculate your very own needs when it comes to hydration. Just think about how easily you will skate faster knowing exactly how much water you need to drink!

Here we give you 5 professional hockey secrets to skate faster using advanced hydration.

But we wanted to make your time reading about hydration fun so we are comparing advanced hydration strategies with HALLOWEEN!

TRICK or TREAT!

PRO SECRET #1:

YOUR HOUSE NEEDS TREATS – OR YOU GET TRICKS

How much Halloween candy do you buy so that everybody who rings your doorbell gets at least one piece and doesn’t get sent away empty-handed? Maybe 1 full bowl? It’s always an estimate based on your previous experience. You might base it on how many Trick-or-Treaters showed up last year and then throw a few extra bags of candy in your shopping cart just in case you need more. When you get home you put your baseline amount of candy (chocolate bars, Twizzlers, and all) into a bowl so they’re ready for the big night, and the extra bags can stay on your counter just in case you need it.

In hydration, it’s the same idea. When you show up to your hockey game hydrated you have what we’re calling a full bowl of candy or your baseline hydrated state. You are encouraged to carry some extra hydration in your water bottles in case you need it.

Yes, but how much water will fill your body bowl? In the same way as preparing for Halloween you base your water drinking needs on past experience – recent past experience with your body weight and your pee color!

  • Your morning body weight (after you do your business) can help you know if you’re drinking enough to wake up hydrated on your game day. We recommend weighing yourself for 4 days in a row to understand your most hydrated AM body weight.
  • If your urine is a pale yellow colour it means you’re likely hydrated. This is the zone you want to stay in. Anything darker than that (think apple juice or darker) indicates slight to mild dehydration, and if it is a dark yellow, it indicates dehydration. Try changing your fluid intake to see how the colour changes.

The ultra-elite do this to skate faster using hydration:

Another tool that can help determine if you are hydrated is a fancy device called a refractometer that sports dietitians have which can determine your urine specific gravity (USG) by reading the density of your urine. The best time to do this test, similar to the hydration test is early in the morning before you have eaten or drank food or fluids and about 2 hours before hockey. Without going into too many details, you place a drop of urine in the refractometer. You want your reading to be < 1.020 which is closer to water.

PRO SECRET #2:

AAAH I RAN OUT OF CANDY – GET MORE STAT

Turns out Halloween night brings the most beautiful, mild fall-like weather, unlike the previous year when snowflakes were falling. Halfway into the evening, the bowl you filled with Halloween candy is almost done! Thank goodness you bought those extra bags! Based on the pleasant weather condition you have to refill your bowl with candy beyond the original baseline

A nice night on Halloween is when you skate faster, work harder, and play more in your game… you will sweat more. This means your body will dehydrate if you do not drink a hydrating fluid. You can picture an angry mob of teenagers throwing eggs at your house. When you don’t have enough candy to give out on Halloween you risk getting tricksters right?! Your body feels the same way about running low on water – it will start playing tricks on you.

To avoid losing too much of your body’s water you can drink more water. However, there is a way to tell how much water you need to skate faster because so that you stay light on your skates and avoid over-hydrating.

You can easily calculate how much water you’ve lost from hockey using the following steps- no fancy equipment or a visit to a dietitian or doctor needed! For this simple calculation, you will need a scale and a way to keep track of how much water you’ve drank in volume. If you’ll be drinking out of a water bottle, take note of its volume.

 

Calculate Your Sweat Rate (the simplest version)

  • Step 1: Before hockey, go to the washroom, do your business, and step on the scale and record your weight.
  • Step 2: Weigh yourself immediately after hockey. Take your weight first before using the washroom.
  • Step 3: Subtract your weight after hockey from your weight before hockey
  • Step 4: Add in amount of fluid you consumed during hockey.

 

If you divide it by the number of hours you were active (total volume of sweat/hours), you will get your sweat rate.

Follow this example to skate faster! Say your starting weight after using the washroom, before starting exercise is 61.36 kg. After you’ve finished your practice or game which lasted for 1 hour, your weight is 59.5 kg. During your practice or game, you drank 500 ml of water. This means you lost 1.36 L of water during activity, and since you exercised for 1 hour, your sweat rate is 1.36L/hour.

Sweat rates have been reported to be as high as 2.9 L/h in elite male goaltenders aged 18. How do you measure up?

Keep in mind that the water you lose in a practice may differ significantly from the amount lost in a game, so it’s wise to do your sweat rate calculations for both of these activities. Sweat rates have been shown to be higher during on-ice training than during competition by 220 ml/h in Junior hockey players.

Once you know your general sweat rate you can aim to drink more or less the fluid amounts you sweat!

PRO SECRET #3:

WHY WE NEVER RUN OUT OF CANDY ON HALLOWEEN

Trick-or-Treating has wrapped up for another year and you only have a few candies remaining in your bowl, mostly licorice and Rockets, the candy you don’t really care for. Luckily your kids get home from their Trick-or-Treating missions and empty their bags of goodies into the bowl, and not only do they have all the good stuff in their haul but they actually got much more candy than what you bought to give out, so effectively you’re original bowl is full again and some.

When it comes to hydration the fun does not stop when you end the game. Hockey is over now let’s make sure you refill any low supplies! Simply rehydrating with water is A-OK, but like in everything we can get more specific than that if you have done a sweat rate test. Check out our example to see the advanced hydration calcs we use on the pros to help them skate faster:

Example time again! During your game or practice, you want to aim to hydrate so that you don’t lose more than 2% of your body weight, which could impact your performance. Using our example from step 2, if your pre-weight is 61.36 kg and your post-weight is 59.5 kg, you have lost 1.86 kg which is 3% of your body weight. 3% is a high amount of fluid loss, so this means that you should be drinking more while active. You may have to play with the amounts you need during practice and during a game to find what is comfortable for you and makes you skate faster and play your best. Some players find they may have to stay closer to 1% otherwise they begin to feel the symptoms of dehydration which we talked about earlier, like increased heart and body temperature. After a game or practice, it is important to consume enough fluid to replace 125-150% of the fluid that was lost. So if you lost 1.86 kg of weight, you should consume 2.3-2.8 L of water to replace your losses. THAT IS A LOT OF WATER! You can replace these losses over 4 – 6 hours and by adding sodium (found in salt) to the water you will absorb the water faster.

 

PRO SECRET #4: THERE’S MORE TO SWEAT THAN WATER

When we sweat we lose sodium (a component of salt), so it’s important we get it back because it has many important jobs in our body. Sodium also helps with fluid retention. When replenishing fluid losses with 125-150% of the fluid deficit, include a source of sodium. Some athletes lose more sodium in their sweat than others, and an easy way to tell if you are a “salty sweater” is if you find white patches (salt) on your garments under your hockey equipment. Aside from replenishing your sodium after hockey, if you have sweat rates > 1.2L/h, it is recommended that you include a source of sodium in your drink during your practice or game. So skate faster using a little salt… did you ever think that was the missing piece of equipment?

PRO SECRET #5:

WHAT TO DRINK?

Is water my only option?

There are many drinks aside from water that can be used for replenishing fluid losses and returning to your baseline. This image shows how well different beverages hydrate the body.

You will notice that skim milk gets the top spot and also has the added benefit of providing additional energy, and protein. Now, I have proven to you that water can help you skate faster, but wait until you see what additional energy and protein can do for you! After you are properly hydrated the next step is Eating for Performance.

You can already start to eat for performance by grabbing The Champions Pre-Game Meal Planner.

More Recipes

Raspberry Sports Drink

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