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Hydration for Goaltenders

By Ontario Minor Hockey Association, 11/13/14, 9:00AM EST


Modern research into the impact of proper hydration on athletes has yielded important facts both parents and players need to keep in mind.


The term “Hydration” has become a buzz word over recent years in areas ranging from the health and wellness industry on through to the world of sports. Modern research into the impact of proper hydration on young athletes has yielded a number of important facts that both parents and players need to keep in mind. Here is a sampling of some of the findings from several of those studies as they relate to the goaltending position. We’ll begin by taking a look at a study conducted a few years ago at Guelph University.

  • As with adults, children tend to underestimate the amount of fluid they require to maintain proper hydration. However, children’s core body temperature tends to increase faster than that of adults and so it is even more vital that they drink during exercise.
  • Goaltenders lose more fluid during heavy workloads (practices and high shot volume games) than players.
  • Goaltenders averaged 2.9L of fluid loss per hour (this is comparable to 3 water bottles).
  • Goalies tended to drink more than players (1.8L on average) but still lost an average of 1.1% of body mass.
  • Losing 1-2% body mass leads to impaired performance. So a seemingly minor loss of 1 pound ( .45 kg) for a 100 pound goaltender (45 kg) could result in impaired performance. 
  • Goalies tend to lose less body mass during games than players. This may be attributed to the fact that they tend to have a lesser workload and longer recovery periods during games than practices.

In a separate study conducted at the Mayo Clinic evaluating the nervous responses of experienced versus less experienced goaltenders, it was found that although more experienced goaltenders maintained a higher heart rate during games, they also maintained a lower level of arousal than less experienced net minders. This may also impact the degree of perspiration of individual net minders.  

Other studies have shown that when an athlete becomes dehydrated their peak leg power production decreased by 18.36 %. Imagine what this would do to a goaltender’s lateral mobility? 
One very effective way monitor if you are getting enough fluids is to weight yourself right before and right after a practice or game. If your weigh decreases more than 2% after a practice or game , then your performance may have been hampered by your lack of fluid intake. A very simple equation can give you the answer.

(weight before – weight after ) / weight before

If the loss is greater than 0.02, then you didn’t drink enough.

Remember, make sure to not drink anything after the game (just this once) and to shed any soaking undergarments before taking the postgame weight.

Pre-game, in game and postgame hydration won’t always guarantee that every puck will stay out, but it will ensure that each athlete is performing as close to peak performance as their training and preparation allows. 

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