Peak Performance – Hydration for Basketball Players

By Adam Barnes

Like it or not, the dog days of summer are upon us. Players are finishing up school, AAU is in full swing, and camp season is set to begin. Not to mention open gyms, practices, summer leagues, and more.

At this moment it is extremely important to remind players of the importance of taking care of their body. Yes, they are young, their body can handle a lot more now than it will 20 years from now. But with that being said, we have to make sure they are putting the right things in their body to help them perform at their maximum level.

Players need to be drinking more WATER – and not just on game day. Trust me, your players will thank you.

How long does it take to hydrate?


It takes approximately 20 minutes to hit the peak rate of fluid absorption in the blood. It usually takes 75-90 minutes before the fluids are fully absorbed into the body.

With that being said, DO NOT WAIT TO HYDRATE. It is imperative that players start hydrating at least eight hours before their game. And keep in mind, many times players will play 4-6 games over the course of the weekend. Are they properly preparing their body? Very doubtful.

Most of the time I get the response, “but I feel fine”.

While I understand that statement, players need understand that they need to MAXIMIZE their output to reach their fullest potential. Playing “fine” isn’t good enough so why should feeling “fine” be allowed? Yes, they will be tired, but they will see a difference if they properly take care of their body and stay hydrated.

Need help understanding how to tell if players are dehydrated?

Next time they hit the restroom, have them look at the color of their urine. The lighter, the better. If they need more help, there are plenty of color guides that help tell which category they fall into (hydrated, dehydrated, severally dehydrated).

Still need a bit more help? Here are a few examples:

  • John weighs 180 pounds. He is showing signs of severe dehydration. He needs to drink at least 28-30 ounces of fluid four to six hours prior to game time. If he is still showing signs of severe dehydration, he needs to drink another 20 ounces of fluid 1 to 2 hours before tip-off.
  • Jackson weighs 230 pounds. He has played a ton of minutes over his first three games of the weekend. The team gets back to the hotel at midnight and he notices he is showing signs of mild dehydration. Before breakfast, he checks again and is still showing signs of dehydration. His first game is at 1 PM so he knows that he needs to get some fluids into his system as soon as possible. Due to his size, he will actually consume the same amount of fluid that John did even though his dehydration is not as severe. A couple hours before tip-off he checks again. He has improved but as a precaution he should drink at least another 16-18 ounces of water to help his body complete the hydration process.

Coach Adam Barnes, the Director of the Coach Barnes Basketball Academy and a USA Basketball Certified Coach, is a nationally recognized Player Development Specialist based in Lincoln, Nebraska.

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Player Development Specialist (High School, College, & NBA) & Recruiting Analyst/National Camp Director
Dec. 13, 2012 – Boy basketball player drinking water (Credit Image: � Image Source/

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