There is little evidence regarding the benefits of caffeine ingestion on cognitive function and skillful actions during sporting performance, especially in sports that are multifaceted in their physiological, skill, and cognitive demands.
To examine the influence of caffeine on performance during simulated soccer activity.
Twelve male soccer players completed two 90-min soccer-specific intermittent running trials interspersed with tests of soccer skill (LSPT). The trials were separated by 7 days and adhered to a randomized crossover design. On each occasion participants ingested 6 mg/kg body mass (BM) of caffeine (CAF) or a placebo (PLA) in a double-blind fashion 60 min before exercise. Movement time, penalties accrued, and total time were recorded for the LSPT. Physiological and performance markers were measured throughout the protocol. Water (3 ml/kg BM) was ingested every 15 min.
Participants accrued significantly less penalty time in the CAF trial (9.7 ± 6.6 s vs. PLA 11.6 ± 7.4 s; p = .02), leading to a significantly lower total time in this trial (CAF 51.6 ± 7.7 s vs. PLA 53.9 ± 8.5 s; p = .02). This decrease in penalty time was probably attributable to an increased passing accuracy in the CAF trial (p = .06). Jump height was 2.7% (± 1.1%) higher in the CAF trial (57.1 ± 5.1 cm vs. PLA 55.6 ± 5.1 cm; p = .01).
Caffeine ingestion before simulated soccer activity improved players’ passing accuracy and jump performance without any detrimental effects on other performance parameters.
Foskett and Ali are with the Institute of Food, Nutrition and Human Health, Massey University, Auckland, New Zealand. Gant is with the Dept. of Sport and Exercise Science, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.