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Professional soccer players are exposed to large amounts of physiological and psychological stress, which can increase infection risk and threaten availability for training and competition. Accordingly, it is important for practitioners to implement strategies that support player well-being and prevent illness. This case study demonstrates how a scientifically supported and practically applicable nutrition and lifestyle strategy can reduce infection incidence in an illness-prone professional soccer player. In the 3 months before the intervention, the player had 3 upper-respiratory tract infections (URTIs) and subsequently missed 3 competitive matches and 2 weeks’ training. He routinely commenced morning training sessions in the fasted state and was estimated to be in a large daily energy deficit. Throughout the 12-week intervention, the amount, composition, and timing of energy intake was altered, quercetin and vitamin D were supplemented, and the player was provided with a daily sleep and hygiene protocol. There was a positive increase in serum vitamin D 25(OH) concentration from baseline to Week 12 (53 n·mol-1 to 120 n·mol-1) and salivary immunoglobulin-A (98 mg·dl-1 to 135 mg·dl-1), as well as a decline in the number of URTI symptoms (1.8 ± 2.0 vs. 0.25 ± 0.5 for Weeks 0–4 and Weeks 8–12, respectively). More important, he maintained availability for all training and matches over the 12-week period. We offer this case study as a real-world applied example for other players and practitioners seeking to deploy nutrition and lifestyle strategies to reduce risk of illness and maximize player availability.
Ranchordas is with the Academy of Sport and Physical Activity, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, United Kingdom. Bannock and Robinson are with the Guru Performance Institute, London, United Kingdom.