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Kevin Currell, Steve Conway and Asker E. Jeukendrup

The aim of the study was to investigate the reliability of a new test of soccer performance and evaluate the effect of carbohydrate (CHO) on soccer performance. Eleven university footballers were recruited and underwent 3 trials in a randomized order. Two of the trials involved ingesting a placebo beverage, and the other, a 7.5% maltodextrin solution. The protocol comprised a series of ten 6-min exercise blocks on an outdoor Astroturf pitch, separated by the performance of 2 of the 4 soccer-specific tests, making the protocol 90 min in duration. The intensity of the exercise was designed to be similar to the typical activity pattern during soccer match play. Participants performed skill tests of dribbling, agility, heading, and shooting throughout the protocol. The coefficients of variation for dribbling, agility, heading, and shooting were 2.2%, 1.2%, 7.0%, and 2.8%, respectively. The mean combined placebo scores were 42.4 ± 2.7 s, 43.1 ± 3.7 s, 210 ± 34 cm, and 212 ± 17 points for agility, dribbling, heading, and kicking, respectively. CHO ingestion led to a combined agility time of 41.5 ± 0.8 s, for dribbling 41.7 ± 3.5 s, 213 ± 11 cm for heading, and 220 ± 5 points for kicking accuracy. There was a significant improvement in performance for dribbling, agility, and shooting (p < .05) when CHO was ingested compared with placebo. In conclusion, the protocol is a reliable test of soccer performance, and ingesting CHO leads to an improvement in soccer performance.

Open access

Ronald J. Maughan, Louise M. Burke, Jiri Dvorak, D. Enette Larson-Meyer, Peter Peeling, Stuart M. Phillips, Eric S. Rawson, Neil P. Walsh, Ina Garthe, Hans Geyer, Romain Meeusen, Luc van Loon, Susan M. Shirreffs, Lawrence L. Spriet, Mark Stuart, Alan Vernec, Kevin Currell, Vidya M. Ali, Richard G.M. Budgett, Arne Ljungqvist, Margo Mountjoy, Yannis Pitsiladis, Torbjørn Soligard, Uğur Erdener and Lars Engebretsen

Nutrition usually makes a small but potentially valuable contribution to successful performance in elite athletes, and dietary supplements can make a minor contribution to this nutrition program. Nonetheless, supplement use is widespread at all levels of sport. Products described as supplements target different issues, including the management of micronutrient deficiencies, supply of convenient forms of energy and macronutrients, and provision of direct benefits to performance or indirect benefits such as supporting intense training regimens. The appropriate use of some supplements can offer benefits to the athlete, but others may be harmful to the athlete’s health, performance, and/or livelihood and reputation if an anti-doping rule violation results. A complete nutritional assessment should be undertaken before decisions regarding supplement use are made. Supplements claiming to directly or indirectly enhance performance are typically the largest group of products marketed to athletes, but only a few (including caffeine, creatine, specific buffering agents and nitrate) have good evidence of benefits. However, responses are affected by the scenario of use and may vary widely between individuals because of factors that include genetics, the microbiome, and habitual diet. Supplements intended to enhance performance should be thoroughly trialed in training or simulated competition before implementation in competition. Inadvertent ingestion of substances prohibited under the anti-doping codes that govern elite sport is a known risk of taking some supplements. Protection of the athlete’s health and awareness of the potential for harm must be paramount, and expert professional opinion and assistance is strongly advised before embarking on supplement use.