The mental game The biggest difference between elite and amateur players is their ability to make the right decisions at the right time. This is especially true during high-pressure situations. Studies have shown that elite players have a superior ability to focus on the most important information on the pitch (such as the runs of their team-mates). Such levels of mental performance are especially important at the end of the games where research has shown that most goals are scored. Obviously, we know that as the game progresses, we feel more fatigued, and this may lead to greater lapses in concentration and breakdown in decision making abilities. As a result, if you can reduce such decreases in physical and mental performance you could gain a significant advantage on the pitch. How caffeine can help Caffeine has been acknowledged as a supplement which provides legal performance gains for athletes. In simple terms, caffeine is a stimulant that improves both endurance-based performance and repeated sprint abilities by providing a mental boost and improving alertness and concentration. It does this by working on a certain receptor in the body, which leads to improved brain to muscle function; improved alertness and a reduction in how hard we find exercise. Other research also suggests that caffeine can aid focus and decision-making abilities in footballers. This has been demonstrated in studies showing that caffeine can improve passing accuracy and skill performance. How much and when to take it? The research suggests that approximately 3 – 5 mg per kilogram body mass (mg/kg) of caffeine is recommended for improving performance: ~200 mg caffeine for a 70 kg individual. However, it is important to acknowledge that a person’s response to caffeine is very individual and some may benefit more from lower intakes of caffeine whilst others may benefit from higher amounts (consuming caffeine amounts above the recommendations above has been shown to have no further benefit to performance and could in fact be detrimental to performance). Therefore, we recommend taking between 75 – 200 mg of caffeine 30-45 minutes before exercise begins or when you wish to have the desired effect to ensure the body starts with peak caffeine levels. Where hydration is important, caffeine products can also be consumed with SiS GO Hydro or GO Electrolyte to ensure a combination of carbohydrate, caffeine, and fluid delivery during exercise. In fact, caffeine consumption in addition to carbohydrate has been shown to have an increased benefit. The following Science in Sport products contain sufficient amounts of caffeine (with their caffeine content included in brackets) to be used as part of your pre- or during exercise nutrition strategy: SiS GO Energy + Caffeine (75 mg), SiS Hydro + Caffeine (75 mg) and SiS Beta Fuel Nootropics (200 mg). In addition to the caffeine content of SiS Beta Fuel Nootropics, it also contains nootropics which is an active ingredient that can improve or maintain peak cognitive performance such as attention, focus, creativity, motivation, memory and so on. This means that the inclusion of caffeine, nootropics and carbohydrates within SiS Beta Fuel Nootropics gels offers players a complete energy source for both body and mind during training and/or competition because you need peak mental function when the demands are most physical! It is also worth noting that caffeine typically takes around five hours to wear off in the body. As a result, you may want to factor in when you take caffeinated products prior to an evening kick off. For a 7.45 pm match, having your caffeine at around 6.00 pm should mean you benefit from the effects of the caffeine without suffering from disrupted sleep after the game. Key advice Football relies heavily both on physical and mental attributes of players. Caffeine is one of only a few products which can have a positive impact on both physical and mental performance by delaying feelings of fatigue. We recommend taking onboard 75-200 mg of caffeine around 30-45 minutes prior to kick off. Written By sisteam Supplying world-class knowledge, elite insights, and product recommendations to provide optimal performance solutions for all athletes across a wide variety of endurance sports.