Snacks Hydration And Staying Cool At Soccer Games

Hello SoccerHelp,

I'm an assistant coach for a U-11 Boys travel team. We've just started the season and had recently received an email from a concerned parent regarding handing out snacks during half time.

This parent was concerned that the use of snacks was bad in two ways:

  1. It is frowned upon by most coaches because it is considered "childish" at the "travel-level".
  2. It is unhealthy for the child to intake food during or immediately after a soccer game.

Now I firmly disagree with the first comment. After all, we are dealing with children -- I'm 34 years old and I too enjoy a snack!

However, the second reason concerns me. I am not a physician (nor do I play one on T.V.), but I would not think 3-4 slices of oranges would be bad to consume during half time. Do other U-11 travel/select coaches offer their children snacks during half time? If so -- what types of snacks are common and has there been any performance drops (sluggish, cramping, etc)?

Thanks for the website! The premier section has been very helpful in preparing me to deal with 18 great soccer players on the U-11 Boys travel team!


Hi Clint,

We're glad you enjoy Premium.

Some tips before I answer you: Play "Dribble Across A Square" at every practice AND "Dribble Around Cone & Pass Relay Race" -- these 2 games will make a HUGE difference. Also, read Stopper Importance and teach Coaching Rule #3.

I know that hydration is important as is staying cool. I've pasted below a tip about Hydration from Premium "23 Of The Best SoccerHelp Tips and Tactics". Also, I recommend buying a garden sprayer at Home Depot and filling it with ice water before the game and spraying the boys if it's really hot, and DON'T put the Goalie in a jersey on a hot day -- use a mesh pinnie instead so he won't have a stroke. Give the Goalie a bottle of water to keep in the goal.

Clint, in our area the travel teams didn't do snacks, but that doesn't mean it's a bad idea. I've read some articles and suggest this:

I believe I've read that oranges are bad -- very acidic, sticky fingers and some kids are very allergic to them. I think apple slices would be better. However, the best is water or a sports drink. Studies show players play better if they drink Gatorade before the game and at halftime. My recommendation is to have them drink Gatorade before and during the game, both when it's hot and even when it isn't hot (i.e., at all games, hot or cold).

Good Hydration and Carbohydrate Intake Can Be Worth A Goal On a Hot Day. This is especially true if you have fewer players than your opponent, play on a big field or have out-of-shape players. Like most coaches I used to rely on the players to bring their own water to the games. As an experiment, last season I bought several cases of bottled water (plastic bottles with sport caps) at Costco and a big can of powdered Gatorade. I mixed the Gatorade in the water bottles, put the bottles in a cooler with ice and had an Assistant ready to hand them out during the game. (These were "Team" bottles & we told players to not put them in their mouth but to squirt the liquid in). Technically, players aren't supposed to drink on the field, but most refs don't care if a player comes to the sideline to take a drink and the Goalie can keep a bottle in the goal. This made a big difference in the final 20 minutes and I'm convinced we won one game because of it (it was a close game & we only had one sub but we were fresher in the final 20 minutes). On a hot day, I suggest making players drink before the game so they are hydrated. You could ask the parents to bring the Gatorade instead of an after the game snack. If you mix the Gatorade, carefully follow the directions & don't mix it stronger than recommended. A sports drink is better than water, but water is okay. Don't give out caffeine drinks. NOTE: Since I first wrote this I have read an article that reviewed studies that found that players who drank Gatorade type drinks before a game did better in the second half of a game than when they didn't drink the Gatorade before the game. The reason was simple: they had more energy left. My recommendation is to have them drink Gatorade before and during the game, both when it's hot and even when it isn't hot (i.e., at all games, hot or cold).