- Water is vital to cricket. Even 1% dehydration can cause a marked reduction in performance.
- To combat dehydration, cricketers should drink between 1-3 litres during the day (the hotter itis the more you drink)*
- Its better to have a small drink every half hour to hour than one long drink.
- However, in club cricket drinks breaks can be rare so it is better to drink too much than notenough when you do have the chance.
- If you are thirsty you are already dehydrated. Drink often to avoid feeling thirsty.
- If you are lucky enough to have a 12th man or willing volunteer, get them to run outwith drinks bottles when a wicket falls.
- The best types of drinks are juice, sports drinks or plain water.
- Tea, coffee and alcohol are not recommended during play (unless its abeer match!) although a mug of tea at tea time is not going to have anadverse effect.
- There is no evidence that sports drinks are more efficient thanorange juice. Energy drinks such as Red Bull provide a short term boost but could be counted as doping and make you want to go to the loo meaning you may get dehydrated if you drink too much.
* Sweat rates and fluid needs vary according to your role in the team (e.g.
batting, bowling), your playing style and the weather. You should have a fluid intake plan based on your individual needs, rather than a “one size fits all” approach for all players in the team. The general advice for fluid intake during exercise is to try to drink to replace most of your sweat losses, at least to the level that is practical and comfortable. Typically, athletes are advised to try to keep fluid deficits to less than 2% of body weight.
Monitoring body weight changes over a selection of training and match scenarios will provide a quick check of how well your fluid practices track your sweat losses in a variety of exercise scenarios. You should weigh yourself in minimal clothing before the session. After the session, you should towel yourself dry and weigh again in the same clothes. It is assumed that the difference in weight is predominantly due to changes in fluid balance. If you are also able to keep track of how much you drink and eat (in grams) during the session, and any weight changes due to toilet stops during the session, this will allow you to estimate your total sweat losses:
Sweat loss (ml) = weight change over the session (g) + weight of fluid/food consumed (g) – weight change due to a toilet stop (g)
A Case Study
How much do cricket players sweat?
Scientists with the Australian Cricket team, Gatorade Sports Science Institute and the Australian Institute of Sport undertook tests on the Australian squad during a 2.5 hour training session (warm-up and drills, followed by bowling and batting practice in nets). The weather during the morning training session was hot, averaging 29°C and 50% humidity. Players had access to “drink stations”, with eskies of cold Gatorade and bottled water provided on the cricket ground, and near to the cricket nets. The specific gravity of urine samples (USG) collected immediately after waking up that morning showed that 5 of the 12 players were dehydrated from their previous day’s activities. The following table summarises the estimated losses of fluid and sodium during the session for the 11 players who undertook the full training session (the results of one player who was injured were omitted).
The average figures suggest that the cricketers generally looked after themselves well. They made use of the available fluids to drink at a rate that replaced ~ 72% of their sweat losses. On average, the players sweated at a rate of 1200 ml/hour, which is similar to findings from other team sports. At the individual level, there was a different story due to the large range in results. There was a four-fold difference in the rates of sweat loss between players. Fluid intakes also varied, although there was a trend for the “bigger sweaters” to drink more fluid during the session. Four players incurred a weight loss of more than 1.5% BW over the session. One player gained a small amount of weight over the session, by drinking at a rate slightly higher than his sweat losses. This player had shown a morning urinary sample consistent with dehydration, and had a lower rate of sweat loss during the session. Replacing a little more than his sweat losses was useful in allowing him to “make up some ground” in removing his fluid deficit. This is not to be confused with the problem of substantial over-drinking that has been reported among the slower competitors in marathons and ultra-endurance events. In these situations, athletes expose themselves to the risk of hyponatremia (low blood sodium levels) by drinking several litres of fluid in excess of their sweat rates and showing a substantial weight gain over the exercise session.
The only published study of fluid losses during cricket play found that fast bowlers were unable to main good hydration by drinking during the formal breaks in cricket on a hot day. In fact, after two sessions of play (2 x 2 hr), players had lost an average of 4.3% of body weight (BW). Generally, athletes are advised to follow hydration strategies that keep their fluid losses to less than 2% BW (Gore et al. 1993).
Source: Australian Institute of Sport, Pitch VisionAcademy, Cricket Australia