What Do Soccer Players Drink? Tips from a Dietitian

When it comes to sports, what you drink is just as important as what you eat. Choosing beverages that slow your body down takes you further away from your goals (both literally and in terms of your health). Knowing what to drink for top performance and hydration is essential. A registered dietitian nutritionist weighs in on all your hydration questions. What do soccer players drink and what is the best thing to drink on (and off) the soccer field?

Instead of obsessing over hydration, choose drinks that fuel your body properly. Water is ideal to stay hydrated in soccer. In addition, sports drinks consumed at the right time can provide needed electrolytes and nutrients for young, teen soccer players for longer, vigorous practices and games. 

Read on to learn all about what soccer (football) players drink, how much they should drink, and the best way to hydrate! 

When To Drink Before A Soccer Game?

One of the most common questions a sports dietitian gets is about timing of nutrition and exercise. For soccer players, it can be tempting to focus on the game and forget to stay hydrated. However, it’s impossible to reach peak performance if you aren’t properly fueled and hydrated. Hydration starts long before you fit the field.

Ideal Fueling and Hydration Schedule for Teen Soccer Players

The following schedule, based on the latest expert nutrition recommendations, can help teenage soccer players fuel right and feel their best on game day. In general, every player needs carbohydrates, fluids, and an appropriate amount of protein to eat before a game. 

1-4 Hours Pre-Game Fuel and Hydration for Soccer

Depending on your personal tolerance, you should eat at least 1-4 hours pre-workout. If you don’t know what your tolerance is, trial and error will help you discover the time frame that works best for your body. Play around with what works during training days as opposed to game day so that you are feeling your best and can count on your body to perform for important games. 

If you don’t like exercising on a full stomach, try eating 3-4 hours before soccer. You can always add a small snack 1 hour before if you need a little extra fuel.

You should ideally getting a balanced meal 1-4 hours before soccer. Your food should provide electrolytes and many vitamins and minerals. Instead of sports drinks or protein shakes, opt for the following drinks to accompany your meal: 

  • Water
  • Low-fat dairy or fortified plant-based dairy 
  • 100% fruit or vegetable juice
  • Infused fruit water

One hour before exercise, drink at least 16-24 oz (2-3 cups) of water. Pre-workout snacks and meals should be focused on carbohydrates and fluid with a moderate amount of protein.

During The Game Fuel and Hydration

Drink 8 oz of water before your workout and 4-8 oz (1/2 – 1 cup) every 15 minutes of an intense workout, especially if you’re sweating heavily. Water is great for hydration, but during intense exercise it may not fulfill your nutrient needs. 

You’ll want about 30 grams of carbohydrates (carbs) per hour. This equals about 20 ounces (oz) of a sports drink per hour of heavy-sweating or intense exercise. 

Within 1 Hour Post-Game Fuel and Hydration

During the game, your muscles exert power. This means that the body is depleted of nutrients following an intense game. After exercising, you’ll need to replenish, refuel, and recover with carbohydrates, protein, and fluid.

Juice or milk, especially chocolate milk, can be appropriate for post-workout beverages. Chocolate milk is a favorite because of the delicious taste, while it also replenishes carbohydrates, protein, and fluid. 

Focus on getting carbohydrates and protein back into your body with these nutritious beverage options: 

  • Smoothie made with low-fat milk and fruit
  • Smoothie made with plant-based protein powder
  • Low-fat chocolate milk
  • Milk 
  • 100% fruit or vegetable juice
  • Water with a snack or meal

Post-workout snacks and meals should focus on refueling and replenishing carbohydrates, protein, and fluid. 

What are the Best Types Of Beverages To Drink Before A Soccer Game? (And Examples)

Water isn’t the only option for hydrating before a soccer game. Here are some ideas for beverages that fuel activity in a healthy way. 

Beverages to Drink with Breakfast or Mid-Morning for Teen Soccer Players

A good breakfast for adolescent soccer players focuses on healthy carbs and lean proteins. Athletes may also need a mid-morning snack. Drinks can help provide 100-300 calories of lighter protein and carbs between classes or during breaks in the day. 


  • Milk 
  • Green smoothie
  • 100% fruit juice
  • Drinkable yogurt

Drink Options for Teenage Soccer Players at Lunch or Afternoon

Mid-day options for fueling hydration often focus on protein. Drinks can be a great way to digest proteins and lighter carbs needed for afternoon activities. 


  • 100% fruit or vegetable juice
  • Protein shake
  • Milk (e.g. with cereal)

Stay hydrated with water during the day- don’t drink sugary beverages or sports drinks

Drinks for Teen Soccer Players for Dinner or Evening Snacks

In the evening, it’s often protein, carbs, and hydrating fluids that are needed. In addition to water, there are many beverages that can improve recovery status. 


  • Chocolate milk (low or no added sugars)
  • Protein shake or smoothie
  • Fruit smoothie
  • Milk 

What Types Of Drinks Should a Soccer Player Avoid Before A Game?

  • Soda (and diet soda)
  • Sugary juices and drinks
  • Energy drinks
  • Kombucha and chia seed drinks

Sugar can also sidetrack the body by causing a rise and then “crash” in blood sugar during a game. Avoid drinking sugary sodas or drinks before a game, and focus instead on getting enough water and fluids with nutrients in them. 

Fatty foods and high-fiber drinks don’t usually sit well with soccer players. This is because they are a bit more difficult for the body to digest. Digestion takes energy away from the activity at hand, which is the opposite of what we want on the day of a match. 

Peanut butter is an exception, due to its high protein content. While it does contain some fats and oils, it comes in an easy-to-digest “butter” form . This makes it easier for the body to break down, especially when included in a powder or added to protein shakes or smoothies. 

Carefully read the labels of sports drinks and protein beverages before consuming. These drinks can contain alarming amounts of sugars and saturated fats. Plus, sports supplements can be expensive — a fruit smoothie using milk and Greek yogurt can boost protein in a way that is better for the body! 

Why It’s Important To Hydrate Before Soccer

Fluids are important for fueling before a match. There are many related factors that can increase a teenage player’s needs, such as: 

  • Hot weather, sweating
  • Match intensity
  • Training sessions close together

What Happens If You Don’t Hydrate Enough Before Soccer

If you don’t fuel and hydrate properly, it can have the following effects on your body: 

  • Early fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Irritability
  • Unhealthy high-sugar cravings

These effects can obviously distract you from having your best game and could cause injury and weakness. 

3 Helpful Habits for Increasing Fluids Before a Soccer Game

The following tips can be helpful reminders to fuel before a big game: 

  1. Have a glass of water with each meal or snack
  2. Carry a water bottle with you throughout the day
  3. For long sessions, consider a sports drink with high-quality carbohydrates

What To Drink Before Soccer

Before a game, water is the optimal drink of choice. Sports and electrolyte drinks will be more useful when employed during or after a match. This is especially true of those players experiencing heavy fluid loss. 

Water helps to prepare the body for activity and compensate for sweat loss. It also reduces the risk of injury and promotes peak fitness levels during the match. 

The most specific rule is to consume enough fluids so that your body weight after the match is within 2.2 pounds (1 kilogram) of your starting body weight (the weight measurement taken before the match). If you don’t weigh yourself before and after exercising, follow the tips below to stay well-hydrated.

Proper hydration begins the day before a big game. About 80% hydration comes from water and the other 20% from food. The American Council on Exercise suggests the following fluid pattern: 

  • Before activity (2-3 hours) – drink 17-20 ounces of water (about 2-2.5 cups)
  • During activity (every 10-20 minutes of the game)– 7-10 ounces (about 1 cup)
  • After activity– 8 ounces (at least 1 cup)

Drinking about 1-2 ½ cups (200-600 ml) of fluid before a game is suggested by experts to optimize hydration levels. Water is best. If you don’t eat a lot before a game you can also drink 100% fruit juice, fruit smoothies, or some sports drink right before your game (not during the day).

See also: Should Football Players Drink Gatorade? (Great tips that apply to any sport!)

What Should Soccer Players Drink At Halftime?

All players should hydrate during halftime. Water is sufficient for many teen athletes and is often the best option for hydration. In certain circumstances, a sports dietitian can recommend sports drinks with low (or no) amounts of added sugar

It all depends on your answers to the questions listed in the following section. Those players with excessive sweat loss may be advised by their dietitian to consume a sports or electrolyte drink. 

When Are Sports Drinks Appropriate for Soccer?

Ask yourself: 

  1. Is my workout intense the whole time?
  2. Am I sweating heavily?

If you answered “yes” to each of these, it is likely that a sports drink is needed. Ideally, a good sports drink will contain: 

  • Fluids
  • Carbohydrates
  • Electrolytes 

Electrolytes and carbohydrates are most important in a drink during the game because they help muscles and tissues adapt and adjust to the activity at hand. 

The Last Word on What Teen Soccer Players Drink

Food and fluids are equally important to achieving goals. That goes for both soccer games and health! The perfect fluid for hydration and recovery will depend on the needs of each teen soccer player. Water is considered the gold standard, but other options (like dietitian-approved sports drinks) can provide necessary electrolytes and nutrients during game day. 

More soccer posts:

Check out my Nutrition Game Plan for Teenage Athletes eBook! Includes a month-long meal plan, snack tips, weight tips, supplement tips, and more.

Related Questions

What Do Pro Soccer Players Drink During Halftime? Professional soccer players have to stay fueled the whole game and halftime is a great chance to refuel and rehydrate. Professional soccer athletes drink fruit juice, protein shakes, water, chocolate milk, milk, and energy drinks at halftime.

What Should a Teen Soccer Player Eat? A teenage soccer player should eat a diet full of healthy carbohydrates (brown rice, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, fruit, lowfat dairy, beans, legumes), lean proteins (chicken, fish, eggs, and plant proteins), and healthy fats (avocado, fish, seeds, nuts).

Do Players Eat at Halftime? The pros usually eat a halftime snack for some quick fuel. A fueling snack can help a lot to re-energize and keep you at your top potential with enough fuel for your muscles for the second half of your game. Players typically eat fruit, fruit juice, energy bars, dried fruit, dates, fruit leather, or an energy drink at halftime.

What is a Good Pre-Game Meal for Soccer? Some of the best pre-game meals for soccer athletes include pasta and chicken, veggie wraps, rice bowls, protein fruit smoothies, PB&J sandwiches, oatmeal, or sweet potatoes and fish. You’ll want to fuel up on healthy carbohydrates, a small amount of protein, and fluid– water is best.

Related Posts 


Castle J. How Teen Athletes Can Build Muscle with Protein. Eatright.org. Published July 21, 2020. 

Dirks A. Nutrition for Soccer Players: What Happens When You Don’t Eat Properly? Soccertoday.com. Published March 17, 2019. 

Klemm S. Vitamin Needs of Athletes. Eatright.org. Published November 6, 2018. 

Lewis J. How Much Water Should You Drink to Hydrate for a Soccer Match? Livestrong.com. Accessed June 2021. 

Mancuso J, Boateng T. Soccer Nutrition: What Should A Soccer Player Diet Look Like? Julienutrition.com. Published May 28, 2021.

Mohr C. Timing Your Pre- and Post- Workout Nutrition. Eatright.org. Published September 10, 2019.

Rosenbloom C. Teen Nutrition for Fall Sports. Eatright.org. Published September 7, 2018. 

Sports Dietitians Australia (SDA). Soccer. Sportsdietitians.com.au. Accessed June 2021.

Wolfram T. 15 Fueling Snacks to Take to Your Child’s Game. Eatright.org. Published January 31, 2018. 

Katherine Harmer, RDN

I'm a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with a love for coaching others to success in their health goals, especially teenage athletes. Tennis was my sport of choice in high school. Now I'm a little bit older, a little bit smarter, and a little bit worse at tennis.

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