Creatine affects the production of ATP, which is the body’s main energy source, so it also benefits power and strength. Soccer requires repeated sprints, jumps, and kicks, each involving a lot of power that could be benefited by creatine use. The researchers in today’s study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition sought to learn more about creatine’s benefits on the soccer field.
In general, the research on creatine use for soccer has been favorable. Indeed, the researchers noted that among elite athletes, long-term creatine use is quite common. However, before this new research, only one of the studies on creatine use in soccer players lasted longer than a week.
Fourteen elite Brazilian soccer players were studied over the course of their seven-week preseason training camp. Half of them took creatine during this time and the other half did not. Their preseason schedule was otherwise the same as usual. It included twice weekly resistance training sessions, with hypertrophy routines and plyometrics designed to improve leg power. Another four or five days per week, the soccer players did their soccer skill work. The program ramped up in intensity as the preseason camp went on.
The creatine supplementation included a week-long loading phase, during which the players consumed twenty grams of creatine daily. For the remaining six weeks, the subjects consumed five grams daily, which is a pretty standard recommendation. The other group consumed the same dose of dextrose (sugar) as a placebo.
Prior to and following the training, the athletes were tested on their jumping ability as the primary test of leg power. They performed eight jumps, which were averaged together, so there was also some endurance that factored into the results of the test.
The results might be not quite what you’d expect. The program itself, being as rigorous as preseason training is, actually resulted in an overall decline in jumping power. The consumption of creatine mitigated this effect. The results were not particularly substantial for either the creatine or placebo, but the program by itself (the placebo condition) resulted in a “possible negative effect” and the creatine plus the preseason showed a “very likely trivial effect,” meaning that the creatine almost certainly boosted jumping power, just not by a lot.
These conclusions mean that in the offseason there may be a recovery of leg power after training sessions, but overly rigorous and focused aerobic power and skill workouts reduce this power. Nevertheless, even small improvements in leg power are important for soccer players, and thus creatine was effective.
Looking at the individual results, all but one of the creatine-taking soccer players improved performance over the offseason value, although the improvements were small. Only two of the players in the placebo group improved, while the rest experienced a small or sometimes substantial decline. Odds are, they would have seen a different result with creatine.
While creatine is not always considered appropriate for use in a sport like soccer, it still has a place in improving performance. Supplemental creatine is one way to assist in achieving goals for soccer players.
1. Claudino et al. “Creatine monohydrate supplementation on lower-limb muscle power in Brazilian elite soccer players,” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2014, 11:32
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.