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
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.
Pick a Fun
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
pick a new favorite.
"Add flavor to water. Keep it simple by adding some fresh lemon
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.
What They Hate
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
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.”
Soda and Juice
Technically, drinking soda or juice is hydrating, but it’s
not optimal from a nutrition standpoint. But cutting it out
entirely can lead to less overall hydration, so it’s
important to shift to healthier options slowly.
“For kids, it’s better to wean them off soda or juice.
If a child is used to drinking something, it’s hard to cut it
out cold-turkey,” says Elliot. To do this,
water down sugar-sweetened beverages. "Half water, half juice
is great,” she says. If your child is a soda fanatic,
you could consider adding carbonated water to a normal soda to cut
sweetness but not the carbonation.
Alternatively, if the half-and-half taste isn’t cutting it,
compromise. “If a child is unwilling to give up soda or
juice, I tell them to have at least half a cup of water before
drinking the sweet beverage so that they aren’t thirsty when
drinking the soda,” she says. "It helps them drink less and
not drink soda due to thirst.”
"Eat water-rich foods throughout the day, such as
fruits and veggies,” says Elliott. "Berries,
watermelon, mangoes, cucumber, carrots, celery, apples, and
cauliflower are examples of water-rich produce. Parents should aim
to keep these foods convenient at home, so their kids are more
snack on them. Additionally, fresh fruits and veggies
should be emphasized as snacks at practices, rather than salty
snacks that can be dehydrating."
Make It a
Create a reward system for
good hydration and make a game out of your athlete's
drinking. “Come up with a way for your athlete to track his
or her water intake,” says Elliott. "Each day that they meet
their needs they get a reward. Hydration tracking apps are a great
way to do this and can make staying hydrated more fun.”
Remember, if you’re telling your athlete that he or she needs
drink enough water, you should be drinking enough water as
Make sure you’re not sipping a soda instead of your water
bottle when you show up at practices, and if you’re pushing
water-filled fruit and vegetable snacks on your child, you should
be eating them too.