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I mainly play on small courts, so there's a lot of short sprinting, changing direction rapidly etc. So while my first thought to build up stamina is simply to run long distance, I'm wondering if there is a more time-efficient way dependent on the sport?

Also, in terms of energy input before games, what are some good recommendations? I generally just throw sugar at myself within 30-60minutes pregame, chocolate bar + lucozade / pocari sweat. I'm sure these make some difference as I definitely feel more lethargic much sooner without any pre-game sugar, however I'd like to try and refine this as well, in terms of timing, amount, type etc.

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Long distance running will build up stamina for continuous movement, but as you said in soccer you're doing a lot of sprinting and stopping right? If you want to practice that kind of movement you could try interval running. Interval running is beneficial because it mixes all out sprints with recovery, so you end up running at your max for longer total periods of time than if you just did sprints. For you, it will also simulate the kind of work you're doing in a game more closely. Check out the Tabata Protocol for more info.

In terms of fueling for the game - in general sugar will give you a boost of energy but will wear off quickly, leaving you to crash. You should also try to incorporate something that will give you a slow release of energy. You could eat a meal of lean protein and complex carbs a few hours before. If you need to eat right before the game, I'd suggest something with sugar and complex carbs, like a slice of toast with peanut butter and honey. Check out my answer to this question, as it's roughly the same.

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I'll give this a go soon, thanks! :D –  DanH Sep 23 '11 at 2:27
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