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Training and COaching


July 9, 2013
Graham Zusi talks hydration

By Charles Cuttone
Executive Editor

Graham Zusi has had to play under various conditions that make it difficult to stay hydrated.
Graham Zusi has had to play under various conditions that make it difficult to stay hydrated.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Over the past several months, U.S. National team and Sporting Kansas City midfielder Graham Zusi has had to play in places like Azteca Stadium in Mexico City and R.F.K. Stadium on a sweltering June day, as well as at elevation in places like Denver and Salt Lake City, so he's become somewhat of an expert on hydration.

Last week, as part of a program conducted by Gatorade, Zusi made a presentation to youth soccer players at the IMG Academy on the need to stay hydrated.

"I certainly know how important hydration is in my daily routine, and I want to pass it along to them," said the 26-year old Zusi, who grew up in Florida.

"One of the things I talked to them about is what signals your body sends you to keep an eye on your hydration. One of the things is your urine color. Itís an easy way to see if you are hydrated or not. If you have a clear urine stream and not too dark, itís a good way of letting yourself know if you are hydrated.

"If you are feeling thirsty, lots of times thatís almost too late. You donít want to feel that thirst, because that means you are already dehydrated. You just want to maintain your levels throughout the day."

Zusi says he knows from experience what can happen if a soccer player gets dehydrated.

"I know how hot and humid it can be here in Florida. Really, it can get this way throughout the country. I told the kids about one time I was really dehydrated in a game and my entire body pretty much cramped up. All the muscles in my legs, my back and my arms as well. My body pretty much just shut down on me. I kind of learned the hard way about the effect dehydration can have on you, so itís something I take very seriously as an athlete now."

Zusi points out itís not just heat that can dehydrate you, using his recent games at Azteca, Dick's Sporting Goods Park and Rio Tinto Stadium as an example.

"It doesn't always have to be super hot for you to become dehydrated,Ē said the 2012 MLS All-Star, Best XI and MVP finalist. "Elevation has a very big effect on your body becoming dehydrated. The games at Azteca, Colorado, Salt Lake, it's tough to monitor your hydration in those areas, because you donít feel like you are losing a lot of water. You donít' sweat quite as much, that's because its evaporating so quickly. Itís a very dry heat there, so it's something you have to be careful about."

As a part of Beat the Heat efforts, Gatorade worked with leading experts in hydration and heat safety to compile the Gatorade Heat Safety Kit, an educational go-to resource for heat safety tips and advice. The kit provides easy recommendations for athletes, parents and coaches alike to reduce the chances of heat illness this summer.

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