Up to 75% of the body’s weight is made up of water; thus, staying hydrated is an important component of increased performance and staying on top of your mental game. Hydration is needed to sustain performance and is decreased through intense exercise and sweat (Online Mental Trainer, 2011). Intense exercise and sweating can lead to dehydration. When dehydrated as little as 2% of your body weight, your performance can be decreased by up to 10% (Jeukendrup & Gleeson, 2000; Rainey, 2009). Mild dehydration decreases the ability to handle heat strain and has an effect on cognitive functioning- particularly in the areas of concentration, alertness, and short- term memory, anger, perceptual discrimination, visuomotor tracking, and reaction time (Anci, Constant, & Rosenberg, 2006).

In other words, when even mildly dehydrated, you may experience difficulty concentrating, may move more sluggishly (i.e. when teeing off), have difficulty tracking the ball, are more easily angered and are more frustrated with your performance. Your athletic performance, thoughts, mood, concentration, and emotions can all be negatively influenced when you are thirsty or dehydrated. Dehydration in athletes can have an adverse effect on overall performance; hydration is critical to maximal mental and physical performance.

Signs of Dehydration

  • Feeling light- headed or dizziness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Heart palpitations
  • Having a dry or sticky mouth
  • Being confused or irritable
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • You stop sweating

Avoid Dehydration

  • Starting the night before, increase your water intake
  • On the course, don’t wait until you’re thirsty; drink a little after completing each hole
  • Drink a bottle or 2 an hour before teeing off
  • Avoid caffeine or sugary drinks before, during, and immediately after your tee time
  • Apply a cool compress to your face or neck
  • Sports drinks replace electrolytes.  Drink a sports drinking after finishing the front 9

Improve Your Mental Toughness and Physical Performance – Stay Hydrated!


Anci, K., Constant, F., & Rosenberg, I.  (2006).  Hydration and cognitive function in children.  Nutrition Reviews, 64(10), 457 – 464.

Jeukendrup, A. & Gleeson, M. (2000).  Dehydration and its effect on performance.  Retrieved from http://www.humankinetics.com/excerpts/excerpts/dehydration-and-its-effects-on-performance

Krupa,D. (2008).  A water tale for all seasons: When it comes to hydration, the system works. Retrieved from http://www.the-aps.org/press/journal/05/17.htm

Rainey, A.  (2009).  Dehydration and athletic performance- The link.  Retrieved from http://www.suite101.com/content/dehydration-and-athletic-performance-the-link-a101790


Brad Jurica, CMT®
VP of Training
Mental Training, Inc.
Dallas, Texas