The tracking of morning fatigue status across in-season training weeks in elite soccer players

Robin T. Thorpe, Anthony J. Strudwick, Martin Buchheit, Gregory Atkinson, Barry Drust, Warren Gregson

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    Purpose: To quantify the mean daily changes in training and match load and any parallel changes in indicators of morning-measured fatigue across in-season training weeks in elite soccer players. Methods: Following each training session and match, ratings of perceived exertion (s-RPE) were recorded to calculate overall session load (RPE-TL) in 29 English Premier League players from the same team. Morning ratings of fatigue, sleep quality, delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS), as well as sub-maximal exercise heart rate (HRex), post-exercise heart rate recovery (HRR%) and variability (HRV) were also recorded pre-match day and one, two and four days post-match. Data were collected for a median duration of 3 weeks (range:1-13) and reduced to a typical weekly cycle including no mid-week match and a weekend match day. Data were analysed using within-subjects linear mixed models. Results: RPE-TL was approximately 600 AU (95%CI: 546-644) higher on match-day vs the following day (P<0.001). RPE-TL progressively decreased by ≈ 60 AU per day over the 3 days prior to a match (P<0.05). Morning-measured fatigue, sleep quality and DOMS tracked the changes in RPE-TL, being 35-40% worse on post-match day vs pre-match day (P<0.001). Perceived fatigue, sleep quality and DOMS improved by 17-26% from post-match day to three days post-match with further smaller (7-14%) improvements occurring between four days post match and pre-match day (P<0.01). There were no substantial or statistically significant changes in HRex, HRR% and HRV over the weekly cycle (P>0.05). Conclusions: Morning-measured ratings of fatigue, sleep quality and DOMS are clearly more sensitive than HR-derived indices to the daily fluctuations in session load experienced by elite soccer players within a standard in-season week.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)947-952
    JournalInternational Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2016


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