Harper, Liam D., Briggs, Marc A, McNamee, Ged, West, Daniel J, Kilduff, Liam P., Stevenson, Emma and Russell, Mark (2016) Physiological and performance effects of carbohydrate gels consumed prior to the extra-time period of prolonged simulated soccer match-play. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 19 (6). pp. 509-514. ISSN 14402440

Objectives: The physiological and performance effects of carbohydrate-electrolyte gels consumed before the 30 min extra-time period of prolonged soccer-specific exercise were investigated.

Design: Randomised, double-blind, crossover.

Methods: Eight English Premier League academy soccer players performed 120 min of soccer-specific exercise on two occasions while consuming fluid-electrolyte beverages before exercise, at half-time and 90 min. Carbohydrate-electrolyte (0.7 ± 0.1 g·kg-1 BM) or energy-free placebo gels were consumed ~5 min before extra-time. Blood samples were taken before exercise, at half-time and every 15 min during exercise. Physical (15-m and 30-m sprint speed, 30-m sprint maintenance and countermovement jump height) and technical (soccer dribbling) performance was assessed throughout each trial.

Results: Carbohydrate-electrolyte gels improved dribbling precision (+29 ± 20%) and raised blood glucose concentrations by 0.7 ± 0.8 mmol·l-1 during extra-time (both p < 0.01). Supplementation did not affect sprint velocities (15-m and 30-m), 30-m sprint maintenance or dribbling speed as reductions compared to 0-15 min values occurred at 105-120 min irrespective of trial (all p < 0.05). Plasma osmolality and blood sodium concentrations increased post-exercise versus the opening 15 min (p < 0.05) but no effect of supplementation existed. Selected markers of physical performance (jump height, 30-m sprint velocity and 30-m repeated sprint maintenance) also reduced by >3% during half-time (all p < 0.05).

Conclusions: Carbohydrate-electrolyte gel ingestion raised blood glucose concentrations and improved dribbling performance during the extra-time period of simulated soccer match-play. Supplementation did not attenuate reductions in physical performance and hydration status that occurred during extra-time.

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