Hydration and Heat Management for Cricket Training and Matches
Cricket is a summer sport and is therefore played at most times in fairly draining hot conditions. Hot and humid conditions can affect not only player performance, but also be a risk to their health. If a player is not adequately hydrated the detrimental effects of the heat are exacerbated.
It is the responsibility of the player, the coach and even clubs to put strategies in place to combat the effects of heat on players before, during and after matches and training sessions.
Match or Training Session Preparation:
If traveling to a hotter climate for a tournament, it is important to allow enough time for acclimatisation before a tournament starts. If this is not possible, aim to have some time in an artificially heated environment before going to the hot environment to get the body used to these conditions.
Ensure players are hydrated for the start of each session:
- Each morning, players can measure body mass (upon-waking) and observe urine color and volume of the first urine passing of the morning. These measures can help assess dehydration. Lighter than normal weight, dark-colored and low volume urine output can indicate dehydration.
- If a player is dehydrated, consumption of about 1 liter of fluid over the morning leading into a day match is ideal.
- If a player seems well hydrated, continue sipping on fluids over the morning and into the session to maintain hydration.
- Some pre-cooling will help manage body temperature, with strategies such as access to cold fluids at all times, as well as ice-towels to put on the body before, during and after a warm-up.
During Matches or Training on Hot Days
Consuming icy cold drinks can help to manage elevated body temperatures and keep players cool.
- Keep drink bottles in ice water in an insulated cooler box or in a fridge.
- Add ice regularly to individual drink bottles.
- Offer drinks regularly during the innings.
- Do not leave drink bottles in the sun.
The 12th man, parent helper or coach should be available to run out ice-wet towels to batsmen while in the middle. Wet towels can also be placed at the boundary for access by fielders during play.
Be aware that skins or multi-layers of clothing will reduce the ability for players to lose heat, and is not recommended unless necessary.
Utilizing Breaks in Play
- Extra breaks or longer breaks are recommended, and should be implemented if conditions are extreme.
- Access to cold fluids and encouragement for players to drink is required, especially for younger players.
- Air conditioned rooms are preferable for cooling, however if not available a fan could be used to circulate air over players.
- More effective cooling will occur by removing all equipment and exposing skin to circulating air, and placing cold, wet towels on arms and legs.
- If a bath, ice bath or kiddie pool is available, players can submerge themselves to reduce core temperature.
- Consumption of icy poles or plain ice is encouraged.
At the End of Matches or Training Sessions
To determine the level of dehydration, players can weigh themselves, and compare this to their ‘starting weight’. The difference over a single session can be used to calculate the volume of fluids required to consume over the next few hours (1.5 x the weight loss (kg’s) = fluid requirements). (see the discussion of Methods for Measuring Hydration Status).
Re-hydration after matches and training sessions should be a priority, with consumption of non-alcoholic beverages done prior to any celebrations. Fluids and electrolytes should be consumed to enhance re-hydration and retention of fluid.
Sports drinks like Gatorade or Hydralyte, offer an all-in-one option providing both the required electrolytes, along with fluids and sometimes carbohydrates for refueling. Salty foods (e.g. cheese, bread, table salt added to pasta or any meal) eaten with water will also provide the recovery trio of electrolytes, fluids and carbohydrates.
- Players should drink fluid at a temperature that is most palatable to them to increase consumption.
- If conditions are hot and dry, evaporative cooling (sweat loss through air movement) is the best method for losing heat and reducing body temperature.
- If conditions are hot and humid (or if wearing extra equipment), evaporative cooling is not as effective, so cold slushee or icy drinks are best for cooling in these situations.
- Young or junior players are at higher risk of dehydration and overheating due to their less well developed heat regulatory systems.
Signs to identify dehydration and degrees of severity of heat stress
- In the early stages of dehydration there can be signs of decreased co-ordination and skill execution, concentration can be affected, an increased feeling of exertion with tasks feeling particularly difficult to complete, and a reduction in exercise capacity or ability to complete what you normally do.
- More severe signs include some more physical changes that are difficult to see, but players will feel them and may be able to report them to someone, increased heart rate, muscle cramping and dizziness, which is an extension of decreased blood volume. This is becoming symptomatic of heat stress.
- The most severe symptoms include gastrointestinal problems, nausea and possible collapse. In this situation medical help needs to be sought.
- Exercise in Extreme Conditions — articles and information
- Exercising In The Heat — a great checklist of what to do and what not to do
- Hydration for Athletes Articles
- Fitness Training for Cricket
- Warm-up for cricket
- More articles by Clare Wood