This study investigated the influence of ingesting a 12% carbohydrate plus electrolyte (CHO-E) solution providing 60 g of carbohydrate before each half of a 90-min soccer match simulation (SMS) protocol on skill performance, sprint speed and high-intensity running capacity. Eighteen elite academy (age 18±2 y) soccer players ingested two 250 mL doses (pre-exercise and at half-time) of a 12% CHO-E solution or electrolyte placebo administered in a double-blind randomised cross-over design. During an indoor (artificial grass pitch) SMS, dribbling, passing and sprint performance were assessed, and blood was drawn for glucose and lactate analysis. High-intensity running capacity was assessed following the SMS. Dribbling speed/accuracy and sprint speed remained unchanged throughout the SMS. Conversely, passing accuracy for both dominant (mean % difference (95% CI): 9 (3-15)) and non-dominant (mean % difference (95% CI): 13 (6-20)) feet was better maintained during the SMS on CHO-E (p<0.05), with passing speed better maintained in the non-dominant foot (mean % difference (95% CI): 5.3 (0.7 to 9.9), p=0.032). High-intensity running capacity was greater in CHO-E vs. placebo (mean % difference (95% CI): 13 (6 to 20), p=0.010). Capillary blood glucose concentration was higher in CHO-E than placebo at half-time (CHO-E: 5.8±0.5 mM vs. placebo: 4.1±0.4 mM, p=0.001) and following the high-intensity running capacity test (CHO-E: 4.9±0.4 mM vs. placebo: 4.3±0.4 mM, p=0.001). Ingesting a 12% CHO-E solution before each half of a match can aid in the maintenance of soccer-specific skill performance, particularly on the non-dominant foot, and improves subsequent high-intensity running capacity.
Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab (2018). Epub ahead of print