Maltese international soccer player, Ryan Scicluna, reached out to Precision Hydration for help with his hydration strategy when training and competing in brutally hot conditions.
With temperatures regularly pushing 36°c (97°f) in Malta, we spoke to Ryan about how he copes with the heat, his hydration strategy and to find out what endurance athletes can learn from soccer players...
Hi Ryan, let’s start with your pre-season, what does a typical day of training involve for you?
In the mornings, I work on strength and conditioning in the gym 4-5 times per week, but I always try and find some balance. For example, if I've worked on strength one day, I will then work on my core the following day to make sure I'm providing my body with some variety, which I believe is fundamental for athletes.
If I feel tired from the previous day, I will just foam roll and stretch.
Then in the afternoon I have training with the team which usually involves fitness and game-related work. We usually train five times per week leading up to match day and the day after a game is usually a recovery day.
How tough are the conditions you’re training in at the moment? I was just looking at the weather forecast and can see it’s 36°c (97°f) in Malta!
Nobody wants to be training in these conditions because it’s not ideal weather to train in and it feels way too hot most days! But that’s how it is and for me I just think about taking the right stuff to ensure I feel prepared for every session and game.
With that in mind, you reached out to James here at PH for help with your hydration strategy. Have you noticed much of a difference since using PH?
Definitely, you've changed a lot for me personally. I'm someone who always looks for that 1% improvement and speaking with James has given me more insight about how Precision Hydration can help me.
We've kept in touch ever since, he's always interested to know how I'm getting on and he's ready to help if I have any questions.
I'm someone who sweats a lot and in the past I thought that drinking plenty of water was enough but now that I have a bit more knowledge, I know I need electrolytes too.
I have only recently started using PH electrolytes but I can see the difference already. In the past, I would feel weak and not have much energy in the final 20 minutes of matches, but that's changed dramatically since I started using PH.
I’m still working on my in-game hydration strategy with James but I know I will definitely preload with a PH 1500 mixed with 500ml of water in the morning and the same again about one hour before the game.
Nutrition must also be a big consideration for you. Do your club, Sirens FC, provide you with a meal and nutrition plan?
Our club doesn’t provide us with a nutrition plan, but I do work with a sports nutritionist here in Malta. I've found nutrition is key if I want to recover well and perform at my best on a day-to-day basis.
In the morning I'll usually have oats, a handful of almonds, half a banana or apple, and two freshly squeezed oranges.
For lunch, the thing that works for me is brown pasta with tuna, olives, tomatoes and olive oil.
For dinner it’s either chicken, turkey, fish (oily once a week) or meat (usually after games) with vegetables (broccoli, sweet potato and beetroots) and quinoa with turmeric.
I also like having smoothies to add more nutrients and obviously try to have three different fruits as a minimum each day.
You had problems with injury during the 2018/19 season but thankfully you're on the mend now. What would be your best advice for any of our readers who are currently recovering from injury?
Patience is probably the most important thing.
Nobody likes getting injured but it can also be an opportunity to work on weakness that maybe you can’t if you were fit and training with the team.
Also, stay positive and don’t look too far ahead.
And finally, something that I learned as I get older and gain more experience - listen to your body as doing more isn’t always the way forward. I could have avoided so many injuries if I knew this a while ago!
Excellent, thanks Ryan. You’ve represented Malta and have enjoyed great success in the Maltese Premier League. So, what has been your biggest achievement in football and what are your ambitions for the future?
I’m proud of a lot of things I’ve done throughout my career, from winning trophies to representing my country and making a great run in the Europa league qualifiers.
But one thing that I always aimed for since a young age was to make it in a higher league. Unfortunately, I never managed to achieve that and I'm not ashamed to say that most of it was down to not believing in myself and maybe not having the necessary luck.
But I believe that everything happens for a reason and now, at nearly 27 years of age, I just want to look forward and challenge myself to be the best player and person I can be, both on and off the field.