As children and teens make their return to the pitch and other sport facilities, our main concern will naturally veer towards keeping them safe against the risk of COVID-19 while still allowing them to resume the activities they love.

There are, of course, still the every-day concerns in place, too, which have always been there – the chance of injury (which comes more into play the older the child becomes) and the importance of encouraging our sports enthusiast to be properly hydrated before their sessions.

Keeping well hydrated before, during and after exercise sessions is vital to the physical and mental side of performance. Being properly hydrated will also reduce the risk of injury and – importantly – help against muscle cramps, as hydrated muscles function more efficiently than dehydrated, fatigued ones.

A good intake of fluid is needed to replace what is lost through sweat

Early signs of dehydration include the feeling of thirst and dark coloured urine, while more advanced signs include dry lips and mouth, nausea, headache and even disorientation. Keeping topped up with fluids, particularly when exercising, is crucially important.

A good intake of fluid is needed to replace what is lost through sweat. Water works as a thermoregulator; cooling the body from the inside out. Drinking plenty of water throughout a session will help to prevent heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Staying properly hydrated also helps to improve circulation, which is needed for delivering oxygen to vital organs and muscles.

Any young athlete should drink water every 10-20 minutes during exercise. Then, as soon as possible after a session, it is especially important to rehydrate sufficiently.

Drinking little and often is what’s most recommended

Milk is also a good post-exercise drink, as the protein in milk aids muscle recovery. The natural source of carbohydrates in milk also supports a quick and efficient replacement of energy stores. After more intense sessions, sports drinks may be recommended to help with rehydration, as they contain carbohydrates and electrolytes, which are lost through sweat.

It’s important for all of us to drink enough fluids every day. If you feel thirsty, it’s normally your body’s way of telling you to take in more fluids. Drinking little and often is what’s most recommended, and on match days, or before a training session, it’s best for your child to be fully hydrated, so encourage them to drink water from early in the day.


Peanut butter & banana shake

Serves one

Nessa’s banana and peanut butter shake is full of protein, potassium and magnesium. \ Nessa Robins

Energy-rich bananas are great as a quick post exercise snack, as they help to replenish carbohydrates while aiding in the replacement of potassium and magnesium lost through sweating. Freezing the banana for this shake adds to its finished creamy texture. Milk and peanut butter are both high in protein which helps with muscle recovery, making this a tasty and nutritious drink to blitz up after a match or training session.

200ml milk of choice

1 frozen banana

1 tbsp peanut butter

1 tbsp oats

1 tsp honey

  • 1 Add all the ingredients to a liquidiser and blend until smooth. Enjoy straight away.
  • Summer berry smoothie bowl

    Serves two

    This smoothie bowl is packed with lots of essential minerals, vitamins and omega fatty acids. The coconut water is rich in electrolytes and helps with rehydration, but if you can’t get your hands on coconut water, simply use some filtered water in its place. The smoothie bowl can be topped with any fruit or seeds of your choice. It’s best enjoyed on a summer’s day, when the sun is shining and Irish berries are in season.

    250g strawberries, frozen

    125g blueberries, frozen

    ½ ripe avocado

    100ml coconut water

    Toppings: strawberries, blueberries, raw cashew nuts, chia seeds

  • 1 Add the frozen strawberries and blueberries to a high-powdered blender, along with the avocado and coconut water.
  • 2 Blitz until smooth, stopping at intervals to scrape the mixture from the side.
  • 3 Divide between two bowls and top with berries, and a sprinkling of nuts and seeds. This smoothie bowl is best enjoyed fresh.