Coffee, tea, and Yerba Mate. Caffeine is common to drink worldwide, and also in the soccer community. But what does caffeine actually do to your physical performance? When is the best time to try caffeine if you’ve never had it before? Read on to find out.
Note: This is NOT personalized medical advice, simply facts about the effects caffeine can have on individuals. If you’re thinking of starting to use caffeine, reach out to your physician or registered dietitian for personal advice.
#1: Know What Caffeine Does to Your Body:
Whether or not you like the term, caffeine is a performance enhancing drug. In terms of physical performance, caffeine targets two areas in your body: your nervous system and your cardiovascular system. In terms of your nervous system, caffeine acts as a stimulant, so it makes you feel more alert. It also increases your blood pressure and heart rate, which may be beneficial for exercise. Also, caffeine is NOT a replacement for sleep- you still need 7-10 hours per night to be at your physical best.
#2: Know How Caffeine Can Affect your On Field Performance:
Because caffeine has effects on your nervous and cardiovascular systems, it can significantly alter your on field performance. Caffeine can help you feel more alert, which has obvious benefits physically, technically, and tactically. Because of its impact on the central nervous system, caffeine can improve overall power output, which is not only helpful when lifting heavy in the gym, but when sprinting on the field as well. It also helps to increase the amount of distance you can run without reaching exhaustion.
#3: Know When to try Caffeine for the First Time:
Be smart about the first time you try caffeine. For first time users, it can have effects on your body that feel kind of weird. It is best to try caffeine in the off season, during an individual training session. See how it affects you both in the gym and on the pitch. If all goes well, try it during a team training session, then a scrimmage, then a competitive game. You want to be absolutely sure of its effects!
Summary: Caffeine impacts your cardiovascular and nervous systems to increase physical performance, which can improve your on field-performance. Be smart about the first time you try it, and consult with a medical professional before you do so.