Your Kid’s Not Going Pro

A Youth Sports Blog

Water, water everywhere

with one comment

In the wake of the Jason Stinson indictment, coaches everywhere wish to inform you they won’t deny your children water and kill them.

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The watering can at your child’s next football practice.

The reckless homicide charge filed against Louisville high school football coach Jason Stinson is in part based on witness testimony that he denied his players’ requests for water, thus leading to the heat stroke-related death of 15-year-old Max Gilpin during summer practice. Stinson pleaded not guilty and denies he withheld water.

Whatever the case, it’s becoming clearer that coaches, players and parents, even those who are aware of the need for frequent water breaks, underestimate just how much water their children need to stay hydrated, particularly during hot weather.

As a youth basketball coach, often I’m begging kids to use a water break for drinking water. Not that anyone has collapsed, or come close, but I have kid who say they’re not thristy, or who don’t feel like going. I don’t know how much water they need, exactly, but I do know none is too little. When kids come to the bench during a game, I have them drink water, and I don’t deny any kid who needs to run to the drinking fountain because he or she didn’t bring a bottle.

The point about underestimating water needs was made very well by a caller to the NPR show “Talk of the Nation,” a man who identified himself as a football coach from Chillicothe, Ohio. The Jan. 27 show was devoted to the Jason Stinson indictment.

The caller, who comes in fairly early in the show, says he’s coached football for nine years, and that he is insistent that players take frequent breaks, as well as drink if they’re waiting in line to do a drill in summer practice. Even still, he has had kids succumb to heat exhaustion, and had one case of heat stroke that required the coaches to strip a player down to his shorts and stick him in a cold shower.

Why? Because in this coach’s estimation, the water consumed during practice takes care of only about 15 percent of a player’s hydration needs.

I don’t know out of what orifice he pulled that figure, but it sounds good. He recommends that players drink plenty of water before and after practice. That way, you’re keeping your body consistently hydrated and reducing the risk of overheating. That sounds like good advice for any sport.

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  1. […] on water breaks. (A key part of the Stinson case is whether the coach refused his players water breaks the day Gilpin […]


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