Fluid intake for football

When you play any sport it’s important not to get too thirsty. Learn how the PROS reach peak levels of performance and avoid health issues that come with being dehydrated.


Various factors such as clothing, weather conditions and player individualisation (e.g. weight and level of fitness) make it difficult to set a general hydration strategy. However, what to drink, how much to drink and when to drink, can be shaped to an individual’s needs and preferences.



Players can help avoid dehydration by being properly hydrated before exercise even begins; prevention is always better than cure. During matches, half-time and full-time present obvious opportunities to take fluid on board. Although, drinks bottles should also be placed at pitch side to take advantage of any breaks in play. Especially in hot weather when you can sweat more as your body tries to keep you cool.



During training sessions, coaches should plan drinks breaks according to the weather and the intensity of the session. If you are not adequately hydrated, there are a number of things, which may affect performance on the pitch.

These include:

  • fatigue (or weakness)
  • dizziness
  • increased heart rate
  • muscle cramps
  • headaches
  • nausea
  • breathing difficulties

Having adequate fuel stores are crucial for football to help run for the full 90-minutes or sometimes beyond. Many games are won and lost in the final minutes of matches, making it important to have the energy levels to keep going till the final whistle. It is during this period when the likelihood of injury can increase. This energy can be obtained through carbohydrates found in food, sports drinks and specialised gels. Isotonic sports drinks with a carbohydrate make-up of 6-8%, allow energy, giving carbohydrate and fluid needs to be met at the same time, making them a great choice for football. Not only do they help replace the fluids lost through sweating, but also provide the muscles and the brain with energy to help prevent fatigue.

Drinking during exercise prevents excessive dehydration and fuels the muscles. How much to drink depends upon sweating rate, the duration and intensity of the exercise and the opportunities to drink. However, a general rule is for football is to consume approximately 150ml of a sports drink every 15 minutes if possible. Rehydration is equally as important following a match or training. According to the National Soccer Coaching Association of America, a player can lose up to 5% of their total body weight during a football match. Remember, this weight loss is fluid!

When playing football try to avoid fizzy drinks as they can slow hydration
The football4football nutrition team

Although water will help replace the fluid lost during exercise, it should only be drunk as a substitute for a sports drink or for day-to-day hydration maintenance. Water lacks the energy and nutrients required following training or a match. To help work out exactly how much liquid to have when playing, a general practice we have seen is to note your weight before and after exercise. This is especially important during hot weather, pre-season and tournaments. At the professional level, the club nutritionist, physiotherapists and other back room staff work very closely to monitor this to ensure the performance and general well-being of their players.

Normally, for every 1kg in weight lost, 1 litre of liquid should be consumed. It is recommended that this is done within two hours of completing the exercise.

Final Note

Don't forget to top up carbohydrate and protein stores as well.

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