To examine the neuromuscular and perceptual fatigue responses to consecutive tag football matches played on the same day and determine the relationship between fatigue and match running performance.
Neuromuscular and perceptual fatigue responses of 15 national tag football players were assessed before and during the 2014 State of Origin tournament. Global positioning systems (GPS) provided data on players’ match running performance, and a vertical-jump test and subjective questionnaire were used to assess players’ neuromuscular and perceptual fatigue, respectively.
There were small to moderate reductions in the majority of match-running-performance variables over consecutive matches, including distance (ES = −0.81), high-speed-running (HSR) distance (ES = −0.51), HSR efforts (ES = −0.64), and maximal accelerations (ES = −0.76). Prematch vertical jump was initially below baseline values before the first match (ES = 0.68−0.88). There were no substantial reductions in vertical-jump performance from baseline values over consecutive matches, although there was a small decline from after match 2 to after match 3 (3.3%; ES = −0.45 ± 0.62). There were progressive reductions in perceived well-being scores after matches 1 (ES = −0.38), 2 (ES = −0.70), and 3 (ES = −1.14). There were small to moderate associations between changes in fatigue measures and match running performance.
Perceptual fatigue accumulates over consecutive tag football matches, although there were only marginal increases in neuromuscular fatigue. However, both neuromuscular and perceptual fatigue measures were found to contribute to reduced match running performance in the final match.
The authors are with the School of Health and Sport Sciences, University of the Sunshine Coast, Maroochydore, Australia.