Effects of Sodium Bicarbonate Supplementation on Repeated-sprint Ability in Professional vs. Amateur Soccer Players


Matthew L Jones, Adam L Owen, Mehdi Rouissi & Karim Chamari (2019).

J Complement Med Alt Healthcare J 10(1)

DOI: 10.19080/JCMAH.2019.09.555780

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Soccer is characterized by its unique, unpredictable, intermittency profile in both training and competitive games. Previous research has suggested that during match play, high intensity efforts last for anything between 3.7-4.4 seconds in duration. Furthermore, elite level players complete significantly more sprints than their amateur counterparts (1.4±0.1 vs. 0.9±0.1%, p<0.05). Recent research has revealed a strong correlation between repeated-sprint ability and elite soccer performance. This variance of stressors encountered during actual training and competitive match-play have shown fatigue to become a prevalent issue, especially following periods of high intensity bouts. As a result, this investigation has been developed in order to compare the effects of sodium bicarbonate ingestion (NaHCO3) on professional and amateur soccer player’s RSA (7 x professional players: mean ±SD: age 21.7±2.1yrs; weight 79.7±9.5kg; and 7 x amateur players: mean ±SD: age 22.8±1.2yrs; weight 79.3±4.9kg). Each player ingested 0.3g.kg-1 NaHCO or placebo microcrystalline cellulose (MC) in a randomized, double-blind, crossover order, among professional or amateur players in MC or NaHCO3 conditions pre-exercise (P>0.05). The NaHCO3 trial revealed significantly higher post-exercise La-concentrations in professional (9.57±1.09vs. 10.77±0.90mmol/L-1) vs. amateur players (10.06±1.45 vs. 10.87±1.25 mmol/L-1). NaHCO3 resulted in significant improvements in mean power output in sprints 2 (512.3±199.4 vs. 547.6±185.3W) and 3 (468.6±209.4 vs. 491.6±199.0W) in amateurs, but no effect in professionals. Therefore, it may be suggested that amateur participants in soccer may benefit from NaHCO3 ingestion more than professional players as a result of their reduced physical conditioning level when compared to professional level players.

Practical Application

  • It can be concluded from this particular investigation that despite no significant differences were found concerning the ergogenic effects of NaHCO3 among professional players, there was however a positive effect amongst the amateur soccer participants.
  • Findings revealed how NaHCO3 may be used to create a positive buffering capacity during initial stages of repeated-sprint exercise bouts when supplemented amongst amateur participants or individuals with a less trained physical profile (e.g. recently injured, post-cessation of training).
  • In addition, it was found that the increased levels of alkalosis failed to improve the mean power output of professional participants.
  • Therefore, in conclusion, it may be suggested that amateur participants in soccer may benefit from NaHCO ingestion more than professional players.

About the author

Dr. Felix Fischer

Dr. Felix Fischer studied at UMIT and specialises in sports medicine, injury management and strength & conditioning.

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