The Efficacy of Acute Nutritional Interventions on Soccer Skill Performance

Mark Russell, Michael Kingsley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


Background - The use of nutritional ergogenic aids in team sports such as soccer is now commonplace. Aligned with the primary aim of soccer, which is to score more goals than the opposition within the allotted time, the quality of performance of technical actions (i.e., skills) executed during soccer-specific exercise is likely to determine success. However, when seeking to maintain soccer skill performance, information about the efficacy of nutritional interventions is lacking and factors which might modulate the efficacy of such strategies are unclear. Objective - This review aimed (i) to systematically evaluate the current research that examines the efficacy of nutritional interventions on soccer skills, and (ii) to provide a qualitative commentary on factors that have the potential to modulate the efficacy of such strategies. Results - Findings were reported for a total of 171 participants and all but one of the included articles used cross-over study designs. Most participants (94 %) were male, highly trained (reported maximal aerobic capacity range 50-59 ml·kg(-1)·min(-1)) and exercised in temperate environments (reported temperature range 13-25 °C). Six of the eight studies reported that carbohydrates, consumed in the form of a 6-8 % solution of glucose, sucrose or maltodextrin at rates of 30-60 g·h(-1), enhanced at least one aspect of skilled performance over the duration of exercise (75-90 min). Although some evidence exists to support the consumption of caffeine (6 mg·kg(-1) body mass [BM]) and prescribed fluid to preserve skills performed during soccer-specific exercise, findings from the small number of included studies were inconsistent. Conclusions - The findings from this systematic review suggest that nutritional interventions, which provide carbohydrate, caffeine and fluid, have potential to preserve skills performed under conditions that induce soccer-specific fatigue. The weight of current evidence supports the consumption of carbohydrate, but is less conclusive with respect to caffeine and fluid provision. It is likely that the efficacy of a nutritional intervention will be modulated by factors including the dose consumed, the mode of administration, individual responsiveness to the intervention and interactions with other physiological changes occurring during soccer-specific exercise. Consequently, these factors should be considered when using carbohydrates, caffeine and fluid provision to maintain skilled performances in soccer. Future research should seek to optimise the nutritional strategies employed to maintain technical performance throughout match-play.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)957-970
Number of pages14
JournalSports Medicine
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014
Externally publishedYes


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