Carbohydrate gels improve soccer skills during extra-time
A recent study (Harper et al, 2016) reported that the ingestion of carbohydrate-electrolyte gels at the start of the extra-time period in match-play soccer games, improved dribbling skill but not physical performance such as distance covered and running speed.
Gel ingestion is associated with enhanced brain glucose supply and reduced central fatigue, leading to preservation and enhancement of skills such as dribbling precision that can influence the outcome of a game. Consequently, the use of carbohydrate gels towards the end of a physical game or into extra-time can greatly reduce the deterioration of skill and fatigue.
As physical capacity is progressively weakened towards the end of a game, the use of electrolyte fluids at half time may be a way of ameliorating this. Further, findings from this study also found that passive half time resting resulted in significant deleterious effects on physical performance immediately after the half-time break, suggesting that a more active recovery involving movement, massage, stretching and electrolyte ingestion may allow better physical responses immediately after half time.
Suggestions based on these findings:
- Athletes should consider using carbohydrate gels towards the end of a sporting game, especially into any extra-time period.
- Half time recovery intervention should involve active modalities such as movement, massage, stretching, fluid and food supplements.
- Consideration as to the ingestion of electrolyte drinks during the half time break may slow the deterioration in physical ability as the game progresses.