Interview with Dr. Lawrence Spriet of the University of Guelph
Thank you to Dr. Spriet for taking the time to share his knowledge with us. For more information visit his University of Guelph page.
Goatenders may be affected more than other players
If you watched the World Junior Championships on TV in Canada you would have seen the Gatorade infomercials showing researchers studying sweat loss in the Canadian players and their needs for proper fluid replacement. A group of researchers, supported by Gatorade, were able to join the Team Canada Training Camp for a day and study the hydration of the players before, during and after practice. The infomercials hit home for me because I did my graduate studies in sport science – and I’m also old enough to have played for coaches who thought it was bad to drink even water during a game!
If you didn’t see the infomercials, we have them here.
I wanted to see how that research would apply specifically to goaltenders. We’re on the ice longer and we wear far more gear – and of course we all work harder, right? So if players experience significant fluid loss and need to consider how and how much they replace, that must go double for us.
The scientific star of those infomercials is Dr. Lawrence Spriet of the University of Guelph in Ontario. Where else to go, but the source? Dr. Spriet was happy to speak with me for inGoal Magazine and tell us how his research applies specifically to goalies.
The interview was interesting as it touched on many areas beyond the world junior squad. They have had the opportunity to test the Guelph Storm more extensively, even in games. They have also worked with the New York Rangers and Dr. Spriet consults informally with Nashville goaltender Dan Ellis – who once lost 13 pounds due to sweat in a single game!
In advance of our conversation, Dr. Spriet sent me the paper detailing the work they did studying the Canadian Junior Team. It’s a technical document, but makes for an interesting read, nonetheless. There are also specific details for the 4 goalies in camp at the time. A few notes from the paper:
- Losing only 1-2% of your body mass can impair performance – that’s as little as 2 pounds for a 200 lb. goalie – less for you fit types!
- Players lost on average 1.8 L per hour of fluid – to replace that fluid you would need to drink nearly two large water bottles. And certainly one full bottle to stay within the 1% loss of body mass.
- Goalies averaged 2.9L lost in an hour – 3 very large water bottles! The goalies did drink the most – 1.8 L on average – but they still lost on average 1.1% of body mass.
- You have to assume that these well-trained young men were taught in their careers about the importance of hydration – yet 1/3 of them still lost more than 1% of their mass.
- The players were not able to maintain adequate sodium balance.
- The players tended to choose sports drinks before practice and plain water during.
- Sodium Balance – Sodium replacement is essential for retaining ingested fluid and restoring fluid balance after exercise
- Suggest extra sodium sports drink to help replacement of sodium – drinking water only can be a real problem.
Here are the specific comments about goaltenders. It is interesting to note the extra fluid loss is a particular problem in practices.
Goalies sweat the most, losing 2.9 ± 0.2 Lh–1, and this can be attributed to their constant involvement in the drills during the practice — other players, upon completing a drill, waited for 4 – 5 of their teammates to complete their turns before repeating the drill. This allowed the players a chance to rest while the goalies were generally involved in many or all successive repetitions of each drill. The sweating response would presumably be different in game situations, as goalies are only required to react to game play in their end while other players are continuously active during their shifts. This is supported by a study by Green et al. (1976) that demonstrated much smaller increases in blood lactate for a goalie (n = 1, +153%) than for other players (n = 7, +325% ± 16%) during a game, despite similar fitness levels.
Bottom Line – How Should a Goalie Manage Hydration?
- The bottom line is that it is unsure how much this matters for non-elite players. The only way to be sure is to take your bodyweight before and after a game or practice – right before oldtimers, not after that extra hour in the dressing room or local watering hole!
- If you are losing more than 1% of your bodyweight you have a potential problem.
- Sports drinks have little value before a game, but are exactly what you need during a game – the extra sodium versions.
- You need a well balanced meal right after the game – if it will be delayed there are many recovery shake options that are essentially chocolate milk!
You might also be interested in this piece from the Gatorade Sport Science Institute showing how they tested J.S. Giguere to evaluate his fluid loss.
And before you leave-check out Canadian Olympic Gold Medal Winning Sledge Hockey Goalie Paul Rosen in a Gatorade commercal: