If you have a picky athlete who doesn’t love the taste of water, or just one who’s constantly on the go and bad at remembering to regularly sip from a water bottle, it can be tricky to make sure that he or she is staying consistently and properly hydrated.
Brianna Elliott, MS, RD, LD, shares a few tips for getting young athletes to consume more water throughout the day—even if they claim to ‘hate’ water.
Sometimes, all it takes to turn your athlete into a great water-drinker is providing the right vessel. “Young athletes should have a reusable water bottle with them throughout the day, even on days when they don’t have practice or an event,” says Elliott.
Simply finding a bottle that can easily fit in a backpack or gym bag, that won’t spill if it’s tipped over, and that looks cool can make a big difference in how much your child is drinking. There are thousands to choose from, so let your athlete pick a new favorite.
“Add flavor to water. Keep it simple by adding some fresh lemon juice, or flavor it up further by adding frozen fruits,” says Elliott.
“Berries are a delicious option. Fresh cucumber and mint can also be added to water for a refreshing flavor.” Allowing kids to pick their own flavor additions can make creating the perfect water combination more fun.
In addition to adding flavor, you might have success by simply experimenting with temperature. “Many young athletes are turned off by room temperature water,” says Elliott.
“Kids might prefer ice cold water. In this case, a pitcher or cooler of ice-cold water should always be readily available to encourage them to drink whenever possible. In the case that kids prefer hot water, having tea or hot lemon water available will do the trick.”
Sometimes, a little fizz can go a long way. “I recommend providing beverages with similar tastes to favorites, but that don’t have added sugars, so a carbonated beverage like La Croix instead of soda,” says Elliott. “And if that’s not quite sweet enough, adding a little bit of stevia or honey can add a more natural sweetness, which you can slowly decrease over time.”