The effects of sports drinks containing caffeine and carbohydrate on soccer-specific skill performance during match-induced fatigue




Jacobson, Marc A.

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A ninety minute competitive soccer match consists of many intermittent sprints resulting in fatigue, and consequently, a reduction in skill performance. The combination of caffeine and carbohydrate (CHO) has been shown to have ergogenic effects which help maintain skill measures during fatiguing states, however, there has been little research investigating this combination on soccer performance. Therefore, the aim of this study was to examine the effects of three sports drinks, including a placebo (PLA), a 6% CHO drink, and CHO + caffeine (CCAF; 5 mg/Kg body mass (BM)) on soccer-specific skills, throughout a fatigue-inducing soccer match. Twelve male soccer players completed three ninety minute intersquad matches played outdoors on a grass field in a randomized crossover design. Players consumed 5 ml/kg BM 45 minutes prior to kickoff and 3 ml/kg BM every 15 minutes during match play. Soccer passing skill was measured using the Loughborough Soccer Passing Test (LSPT), shot speed, and 20m sprint performance were measured pre-match, immediately at halftime and immediately post-match. Countermovement jump (CMJ) was measured pre-match and post-match. Heart rate (HR) was measured continuously. Blood lactate, rating of perceived exertion (RPE), and perceived fatigue were assessed every fifteen minutes throughout the match. Urine was collected pre-match for analysis of urine specific gravity (USG). BM was measured pre-match and post-match. LSPT total performance time was significantly better in the CCAF trial compared to the PLA trial at halftime (55.3 ± 10.3 s vs 66.5 ±8.7 s, p = .027). There were also significant improvements in penalty time (CCAF 8.2 ± 7.6 s vs. PLA 16.6 ± 7.8 s, p = .042) and movement time (CCAF 8.2 ± 7.6 s vs. PLA 16.6 ± 7.8 s, p = .028) during the CCAF trial in comparison to the PLA at halftime. HR and blood lactate was elevated throughout the PLA trial in comparison to the CHO trial. There were no other significant findings. Most players (50% - 83%) started all three matches in a dehydrated state (USG > 1.020). The CHO trial had significantly lower sweat rates (0.83 ± 0.25 L/hr) than both the PLA trial (1.06 ± 0.26 L/hr, p = .038) and the CCAF trial (1.11 ± 0.19 L/hr, p = .009). The addition of caffeine to a CHO sports drink significantly improved passing performance (quicker completion time and fewer penalties accumulated) over a PLA. All three sports drinks appeared to be equally as effective in preventing deterioration of soccer skill performance during a game situation. This suggests that the total volume of fluid consumed is of greater importance than the type of fluid. Caffeine appeared to have limited ergogenic effects on skill performance without any negative consequences.



Caffeine, Carbohydrate, Soccer, Hydration, Fatigue, Sports Drinks, Skill, Loughborough Soccer Passing Test, Caffeine and Carbohydrate