Casey Ames is the head trainer at OptimalSoccer.com where he deconstructs exactly what soccer players need to be eating to support their goals as soccer players, covering everything from necessary supplements to optimizing hormones.
While many soccer players focus on improving the way they play through working out and practicing, many neglect the benefits that the diet can add to their performance. It’s all just a matter of giving your body the nutrients it needs to perform well on the field. There are specific ways in which the diet can improve your performance on the field, but can only be achieved through a specialized diet.
Your diet can affect your endurance, how you recover, your quality of sleep, and the mindset you’re in when you step out onto the field. Since this is a complicated field that is saturated with misinformation, many players and coaches simply are not well educated on the benefits of a soccer diet, and the consequences of neglecting such a diet.
Because of this lack of information for soccer players, I’ve spent years going through studies, separating the good information from the bad, and carrying out my own personal tests to determine what the best soccer player diet looks like.
Before we get into the diet itself, let’s go over the physical demands of soccer and why a special diet is necessary.
SOCCER PLAYERS AND EXERCISE-INDUCED STRESS
Soccer is a complicated sport when it comes to physical demands. As anyone who has played the game knows, you run a ton. However, do you really know the breakdown of an average soccer player’s movements during a game?
Here is a breakdown of an average game for an elite player
- Depending on your position, you could be running around 7 miles per game, on average. Midfielders, of course, run more than strikers and defenders. When you think about it, 7 miles is not that far. If we divide 7 miles by 90 minutes, that comes out to about 1 mile every 13 minutes.
- Watching a soccer game, you’ll notice that for the majority of the game, players are walking and jogging when they are not actively working with the ball. The caveat comes in moments of sprints and changes in direction. Soccer players sprint around 1400 yards per game in segments of 10-40 yards. They also change direction every 5-6 seconds. This puts enormous stress on the body, bringing up players’ heart rates to 150-170 bpm, on average.
That average heart rate should stick out to you like a sore thumb. It is extremely high for a 90-minute period. Think about all the things that go on in a soccer game with players working the ball around and defending the ball. This puts an enormous amount of stress on your body, which is why it is necessary to give your body the nutrients it needs to handle this amount of stress.
Get the basics of nutrition and optimal eating plan plus more training resources in the March 2016 issue of Amplified Soccer Athlete magazine.