If you are familiar with walking the greenway or playing a full round of golf, you know all too well that you can become quite thirsty very quickly. Whether your thirst comes from the heat of the sun, carrying your clubs, or just playing the actual game, you can be left with a case of cotton mouth if you do not properly rehydrate yourself. But does being thirsty or dehydrated really affect your game? A recent study sought out to determine whether mild dehydration impairs neurophysiological function while playing golf.
The study included 7 low-handicap players who each completed golf-specific motor and cognitive performance tasks, which included hitting 30 golf balls. Each participant warmed up with at least 10 swings before the start of the trial. Each participant was randomly given a 9, 7, or 5-iron to hit the ball at the designated targets. Their golf-cognitive ability was assessed by using distance judgment. Each participant was randomly shown 30 golf location images, and they were asked to estimate the distance to the position.1
These trials were first performed in a hydrated condition. Seven days later, the subjects performed the same tasks after they had been restricted from fluids for 12 hours, and reached a dehydrated state. Dehydration was controlled and monitored through body mass change as well as urine color.
The results of the study showed that mild dehydration significantly impaired motor performance (which was measured via shot distance and off-target accuracy). Cognitive performance, which was measured through judgment, was also significantly impaired when dehydrated. The results of this study are consistent with previous research that shows mild dehydration significantly impairs cognitive-motor task performance.2
While this study revealed similar results to previous research, it was the first to show that mild dehydration can impair distance, accuracy, and distance judgment during golf performance. These findings reiterate the importance of staying hydrated from a performance standpoint, not only while playing a sport such as golf, but in other sports as well. The next time you partake in your favorite sporting event, be sure to have plenty of water around, or something similar that adequately hydrates your body and quenches your thirst.
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