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Performance Refueling: Strategies for Tournament Survival

In an article from August 2013, (Link Here) I wrote on the science behind hydration as it relates to performance on the soccer pitch.  Applicable to many team sports where games are played back to back, I described the importance and strategies for hydration during rigorous tournament play.

Having tested this theory with a U14 Girls D1 soccer team during the 2013 Austin Labor Day Tournament with great success, I’m now sharing the specific strategies used to help bring this 13 player roster through 5 games in 3 days.  3 of the 5 games were played in >100 degree temperatures.  The players not only survived against teams of 18 rostered players, but they thrived and physically dominated games late in the tournament despite heat, limited rest, and the aggressive game schedule.

As mentioned, the following strategy could likely apply to not only soccer, but other sporting tournaments as well.

Suggested Hydration Regimen

24-48 hrs prior to game / match

Drink at 1-2 liters additional water (Beyond normal daily consumption):  This can be consumed gradually all day.  This will insure adequate cellular “Pre-hydration”  and prevent players from starting match-day hypo-hydrated.

4 hours prior to game / match

Drink 8-16 ounces of electrolyte beverage (Gatorade).  I prefer G2 to lower sugar content but regular Gatorade is fine too.  I do not recommend other sports drinks if they have artificial sweeteners like aspartame.  For those interested in avoiding HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup) ubiquitous to sports drinks including Gatorade, consider pulp free Coconut Water.  Coconut water is dense in electrolytes and will serve a similar purpose as Gatorade.  (Same volumes recommended).

Match Hydration

During half- time or breaks, attempt to consume 8-16 ounces Gatorade or water. Caution players to not guzzle to help prevent bloating, but encourage players to sip steadily through breaks to replenish during the brief half-time.  The goal is to push a bit of hydration and depleted electrolytes back into the player without causing stomach upset.  I find players do best by capping their hydration with a swallow or two of water prior to game restart.

Post-Game Hydration

Immediately post game drink 8 ounces Gatoraid and 16-32 ounces of water.  Go with the higher values if sweating profusely after the game.  The post-match hydration is hugely important during tournament play.  Players often have a mere 2-4 hours between games.  If the player doesn’t begin re-hydration immediately they have no hope of consuming enough to replenish even 50% of that lost during play, hence the spiral of performance begins. 


Team managers should manage and make accessible match and post game hydration.  During our experimentation, we specifically wheeled ice-chests full of drinks to players as soon as the game ended.  Coaches and trainers pushed the concept of rehydration for recovery and performance with the specific quantities listed above.  My point….the team hydrates as a unit.  Do not rely on individuals to hydrate properly.   Provide the fluids, provide specific quantities, and push them during and at the end of the game.  This allows greatest chance for hydration recovery between games.

Fuel Strategies:

During tournament play, we additionally supplied fuel to players immediately following the games.  Many games were 3-4 hours or less apart making nutritional replacement (re-fueling) timelines critical.  My stategy, like hydration, included providing sandwhiches/fruit/and protein bars immediately after our games ended.  Parent and Team manager coordination was key to make sure sandwhiches were prepared in advance and ready to offer after play.  Sodas, junk food, candy and sweets were forbidden due to the obvious performance robbing properties.  Sandwhiches and fruit were the mainstain due to the prodominant carbohydrate and protein component to those meals.  

Supplemental Strategies:

Lastly our U14 Girls Soccer team also utilized two safe supplements after games.

1)Cataplex F:  This food based product was used to replensih essential fatty acids.  Clinically this product tends to help with muscle cramping and recovery as well as mobilize calcium.  Players were offered 2 after each game with hydration.  This is not a drug.  This is not dangerous–it’s high quality food.  No players experienced side effects.  Importantly no player cramped or fell out despite our intense schedule.

2)Creatine Monohydrate:  Standard, non-hormone, muscle supplement.  Players given 2 capsules after games.  Enhances muscle rehydration and recovery from soreness and overuse.  Taken with hydration this product is clinically safe and well tolerated, especially in the relatively low dosages offered to our players.

Game Day Summary:

1-2 Gatoraid/1-2 water bottles immediatly after game

Free choice sandwhich, fruit, and protein bars immediately after game

2 Cataplex F after games

2 Creatine monohydrate after games


For supplements contact:  361-387-5105.


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