Hydration & Nutrition for Soccer Players
Throughout the last few weeks of training and
competition, the Directors and Coaching Staffs here at FW United have noticed
an increased incidence of boys and girls suffering from poor hydration and
nutrition. Therefore, I have been asked to compile some Hydrating and
Nutrition tips that might make it easier for our young athletes to compete
better and smarter during a match and throughout the season!
Some Thoughts to Consider!!!
In the discussion below, I
have attempted to supply in words the reasons as to why nutrition and hydration
mean so very much to our soccer players. With over 120 million amateur
players worldwide, soccer is the most popular sport in the
world. However, in the past there have been few attempts to research
proper nutrition for these athletes. Recently, new investigations
have been conducted, and the up-to-date research suggests that soccer
players should eat and drink like marathon runners!
The link between soccer
players and long-distance endurance athletes seems odd at first glance, since
soccer is a game involving sudden sprints and bursts of energy rather than
continuous moderate-intensity running, but the connection doesn't seem so
extraordinary when one considers what happens during an actual soccer
match. In a typical contest, soccer players run for a total of 7 to 8
miles at fairly modest speed, sprint for about ½ to ¾ of a mile, accelerate
40-60 different times, and change direction every five seconds or so.
Although soccer players
don't cover a full marathon distance (26.2 miles) during a game, the
alternating fast and slow running which they utilize can easily deplete their
leg-muscle energy stores, otherwise known as glycogen stores. For
example, just six seconds of all-out sprinting can decrease muscle energy
stores by 15 per cent, and only 30 seconds of full-speed running can reduce
muscle energy (glycogen) stores concentrations by 30 per cent! Moderate
to high-intensity soccer players maintain an average heart rate of 85 percent
of their maximum heart rate while on the field. Through research, this
effort has been shown to decrease muscle energy (glycogen) stores up to 90
percent. If your soccer player has ever told you that they can’t run
another minute or that they are exhausted…. THIS IS REASON THEY ARE TELLING YOU
THAT THEY ARE POOPED OUT!!!
Due to poor hydration and nutrition, many players BEGIN their competitions with
decreased muscle energy (glycogen) stores. Players who start a match with
low glycogen usually have little carbohydrate left in their muscles by the time
the second half starts. THIS LEADS TO BAD PERFORMANCES DURING THE SECOND
HALF. Glycogen-poor soccer players usually run more slowly -
sometimes by as much as 50 percent - during the second halves of matches,
compared to the first. In addition, total distance covered during the
second half is often reduced by 25 per cent or more in players who have low
glycogen, indicating that overall quality of play decreases as glycogen levels
head south. Compared to athletes with normal glycogen, low-glycogen
players spend more time walking and less time sprinting as play proceeds.
THEY ALSO PROCESS LESS INFORMATION AND DO SO IN A SLOWER MANNER than those with
proper energy stores.
Can Be Done to Prevent Dehydration???
Teaching kids how to
evaluate their own hydration is essential to preventing poor hydration.
There are many complicated calculations to determine fluid replacement after
exercise. However, why be difficult when it can be simplified!!! The
method below is an
easy tool for even the youngest children to utilize in maintaining their
Observing the color of their urine
before and after exercise can approximate the amount of dehydration occurring
during practice or a soccer match.
Have them compare the color midstream during urination to the chart
above. (Urine color will be inaccurate if it is compared after landing in
the toilet bowl water.) For those with difficulty, a clear cup could be
used to catch and compare the sample if needed. If the player’s urine is
light (1 to 3), then you are well hydrated and don't really need to worry about
dehydration for now. The darker your urine color gets, the more dehydrated
you are and if you're in the 6-8 range, you should seriously think about
increasing hydration using both water and energy drinks. If the color is
in the middle, consider drinking a little more to cause the urine to dilute more,
thus becoming more clear! Drinking an increased amount of fluid should start the day before
competition to hydrate using the urine color chart.
What Should Your Athlete Drink and
When Should They Drink It???
An excellent strategy is to drink about 12-14 ounces ( ¾ ) of a sports
drink, which usually provides about 30 grams of carbohydrate, 10-15 minutes
before a match begins. The same amount should be consumed at half-time, although players may
rebel at both intake patterns because of perceptions of stomach fullness.
They must be encouraged to think about the benefits of proper
hydration. They should continue to drink water or Non-dehydrating drinks
anytime they are thirsty. Please remember that any drink with
caffeine is considered a dehydrating drink. Caffeine has a
diuretic effect, making the user urinate more!!! Thus hurting our soccer
players!!! The important thing to remember is that through
experience - trying out these drinking strategies on several different
occasions during practices - the intake plans will gradually become comfortable
and they will help reduce the risk of carbohydrate and fluid depletion.