Is there a balance of how much water should be taken in? The specific scenario I am referring to, would be sports, in my case, hockey. When I first started playing hockey I drank two 16 oz plastic water bottles during a game, now at a minimum, I have three sips of one of those same water bottles during a game. I am more conditioned and I do believe I have more endurance, which may require less water? Why - because my muscles hold more water??

I am always wondering if less, smaller, more frequent gulps of water may be more effective; but even then, during a game, I merely drink water because I brought the bottle out on the bench with me.

On the other side of the equation, I wonder if oxygen is really what I need more of. When I watch professional hockey players on national TV, I see them taking small sips and often spitting water out immediately after taking a sip. This unfortunately draws be to a perhaps an absurd conclusion - are they only looking to absorb water through their salivary glands? Is there a decrease in oxygen intake after the intake of water?

3 Answers 3


According to most mountaineering training books (mountaineering is my discipline and it's among the most endurance-intense ones in my opinion), you should drink before getting any thirsty.

Quote from "The Freedom of The Hills":

Drink more water than usual, perhaps 2 to 3 extra quarts (liters), during the 24-hour period before a climb to boost your strength and endurance. Additionally, it is wise to drink a generous quantity of water, more than feels necessary, immediately before beginning the climb. [...]. Do not wait until you are thirsty to drink; thirst is a sign that dehydration is already in progress. A better indicator of adequate hydration is lightly colored or colorless urine.

For what matters how to drink, according to Steve House book "Training for New Alpinism" you should drink often and in small quantities rather than the opposite.

Water is also very important after your training and sport performances to help your recovery, so have plenty of it afterwards. A quick way to measure how much water did you loose after an endurance workout, assuming that you didn't eat during it, is to weight yourself on an accurate scale before and after the exercise. The difference in weight is the quantity of water you lost and you should at least replenish up to that value.


The simple answer: Drink when you are thirsty.

Longer answer: Studies have shown that as little as 5% dehydration can have a performance impact. The difficulty lies in what constitutes that deduction, since it is related to weight loss, which will also happen with utilizing the stored glycogen in the muscles.

As far as the professional hockey players rinsing and spitting, you will see this in many many athletes, as they basically just want to clear their mouth. It has nothing to do with increased or decreased oxygen absorption. You may see some professional athletes (I've mostly noticed it with football players) using actual oxygen on the sidelines, but this is not really recommended/feasible for most amateur athletes. If you watch, most will drink then swish/spit, or vice versa.

Breathe as you feel necessary, drink to thirst/as you feel necessary, and you should be fine. If you notice yourself going flat later in the game, try drinking more fluids earlier, and making sure that you get some sort of calories and electrolytes along with the water (gatorade/sports drinks, possibly energy gels, etc).

  • I agree with John. If you are thirsty, drink. I find some days I need more than others. Trust your body. Commented Dec 9, 2014 at 15:27

You require water during exercise mostly because you sweat and/or you did not start out in a hydrated state. You may have gotten more efficient at skating, which would mean that you would get less hot and sweat less.

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