Fluid Replacement Requirements for Child Athletes


Thermoregulatory responses to exercise differ in prepubertal athletes compared with their adult counterparts. It is important, therefore, to consider fluid requirements specific to this age group to prevent risks of dehydration and diminished sports performance. Relative to their body size, children demonstrate lower sweat water losses during exercise than adults. Nonetheless, percentage levels of incurred dehydration are similar in pre- and postpubertal athletes. Moreover, voluntary (ad libitum) drinking volumes in children in respect to their body size are comparable or greater than those of adults. Given an adequate opportunity to drink during exercise, volume intake driven by thirst should be expected to prevent significant levels of dehydration in child athletes. The amount can be calculated conservatively as an hourly fluid intake of 13mL/kg (6mL/lb) bodyweight. Equally important is post-exercise fluid replenishment (approximately 4mL/kg [2mL/lb] for each hour of exercise) to avoid initiating subsequent exercise bouts in a dehydrated state. Choice of fluid should be dictated by taste preference, since volume of intake, rather than fluid content, is the most critical issue in child athletes. Since children may lack motivation for proper fluid intake behaviours, the responsibility falls to coaches and parents to assure that young athletes receive appropriate hydration during and after exercise bouts.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Table I
Table II


  1. 1.

    American Academy of Pediatrics. Climatic heat stress and the exercising child and adolescent [policy statement]. Pediatrics 2000; 106: 158–9

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Rowland T. Thermoregulation during exercise in the heat in children: old concepts revisited. J Appl Physiol 2008; 105: 718–24

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Cheuvront SN, Carter R, Sawka N. Fluid balance and endurance performance. Curr Sports Med Rep 2003; 2: 202–8

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Sawka MN, Burke LM, Eichner ER, et al. American College of Sports Medicine position stand: exercise and fluid replacement. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2007; 39: 377–90

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Bergeron MF, Maresh CM, Armstrong LE. Fluid-electrolyte balance associated with tennis match play in a hot environment. Int J Sports Nutr 1995; 5: 180–93

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Kawahata A. Sex differences in sweating. In: Yoshimura H, Ogata L, Itch S, editors. Essential problems in climatic physiology. Kyoto: Kankodo, 1960: 169–84

    Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Inbar O, Morris N, Epstein Y, et al. Comparison of thermoregulatory responses to exercise in dry heat among prepubertalboys, young adults and older males. Exp Physiol 2004; 89: 691–700

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Rivera-Brown AM, Rowland TW, Ramirez-Marrero FA, et al. Exercise tolerance in a hot and humid climate in heatacclimatizedgirls and women. Int J Sports Med 2006; 27: 1–8

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Frontera-Cantero JE, Rivera-Brown AM, Cabrera-Davila Y, et al. Fluid and sweat electrolyte loss in heat acclimatizedpre- and postmenarcheal girl athletes [abstract]. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2006; 38: S111

    Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Brown MB, Millard-Stafford M, Casner MR. Sweat rates in circumpubertal children versus adults matched by fitness [abstract]. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2008; 40: S187

    Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Horswill CA, Horn MK, Stofan JR, et al. Adequacy of fluid ingestion in adolescents and adults during exercise. Ped Exerc Sci 2005; 17: 41–50

    Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Iuliano S, Naughton G, Collier G, et al. Examination of the self-selected fluid intake practices by junior athletes duringa simulated duathlon event. Int J Sports Med 1998; 8: 10–6

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Rivera-Brown AM, Gutierez R, Gutierrez JC, et al. Drink composition, voluntary drinking and fluid balance in exercising,trained, heat-acclimatized boys. J Appl Physiol 1999; 86: 78–84

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Bergeron MF, McLeod KS, Coyle JF. Core body temperature during competition in the heat: national boys’ junior tennis championships. Br J Sports Med 2007; 41: 779–83

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Meyer F, Bar-Or O. Fluid and electrolyte loss during exercise: the paediatric angle. Sports Med 1994; 18: 4–9

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Wilk B, Yuxiu H, Bar-Or O. Effect of hypohydration on aerobic performance of boys who exercise in the heat [abstract]. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2002; 34: S48

    Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Rowland T, Hagenbuch S, Pober D, et al. Exercise tolerance and thermoregulatory responses during cycling in the heatin prepubertal boys and young adult men. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2008; 40: 282–7

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Bar-Or O, Dotan R, Dotan R, et al. Voluntary hypohydration in 10- to 12-year old boys. J Appl Physiol 1980; 48: 104–8

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Rivera-Brown AM, Cabrera-Davila Y, Frontera-Cantero JE, et al. Fluid intake in heat-acclimatized girl athleteswhen sports drink and water are provided during training [abstract]. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2006; 38: S111

    Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Wilk B, Rivera-Brown AM, Bar-Or O. Voluntary drinking and hydration in non-acclimatized girls exercising in theheat. Eur J Appl Physiol 2007; 101: 727–34

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    Wilk B, Bar-Or O. Effect of drink flavor and NaCl on voluntary drinking and hydration in boys exercising in the heat. J Appl Physiol 1996; 80: 1112–7

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    Wilk B, Timmons BW. Voluntary drinking, body hydration and aerobic performance of adolescentmale athletes runningin the heat [abstract]. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2008; 40: S187

    Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    Meyer F, Bar-Or O, MacDougall D, et al. Sweat electrolyte loss during exercise in the heat: effects of gender and maturation. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1992; 24: 776–81

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  24. 24.

    Meyer F, Bar-Or O, McDougall D. Effect of Na+ intake on performance andNa+ balance in children during exercise inthe heat [abstract]. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1993; 25: S3

    Google Scholar 

  25. 25.

    Bergeron MF. Heat cramps: fluid and electrolyte challenges during tennis in the heat. J Sci Med Sport 2003; 6: 19–27

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  26. 26.

    Riddell MC, Bar-Or O, Wilk B, et al. Substrate utilization during exercise with glucose and glucose plus fructose ingestionin boys ages 10-14 years. J Appl Physiol 2001; 90: 903–11

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  27. 27.

    Bergeron MF. Youth sports in the heat: recovery and scheduling considerations for tournament play. Sports Med 2009; 39: 513–22

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  28. 28.

    Noakes TD. Hydration in the marathon: using thirst to guage safe fluid replacement. Sports Med 2007; 37: 463–6

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  29. 29.

    Maughn RJ, Shirreffs SM. Development of individual hydration strategies for athletes. Int J Sports Nutr Exerc Metab 2008; 18: 457–72

    Google Scholar 

Download references


No funding was used to assist in the preparation of this review. The author has no conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to the content of this review.

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Dr Thomas Rowland.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Rowland, T. Fluid Replacement Requirements for Child Athletes. Sports Med 41, 279–288 (2011). https://doi.org/10.2165/11584320-000000000-00000

Download citation


  • Fluid Intake
  • Fluid Loss
  • Young Athlete
  • Sport Drink
  • Sweating Rate