High Match Load’s Relation to Decreased Well-Being During an Elite Women’s Rugby Sevens Tournament

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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During rugby sevens tournaments, it is crucial to balance match load and recovery to strive for optimal performance. Purpose: To determine changes in well-being, recovery, and neuromuscular performance during and after an elite women’s rugby sevens tournament and assess the influence of match-load indicators. Methods: Twelve elite women rugby sevens players (age = 25.3 [4.1]y, height = 169.0 [4.0] cm, weight = 63.9 [4.9] kg, and body fat = 18.6% [2.7%]) performed 5 matches during a 2-d tournament of the Women’s Rugby Sevens World Series. Perceived well-being (fatigue, sleep quality, general muscle soreness, stress levels, and mood), total quality of recovery, and countermovement-jump flight time were measured on match days 1 and 2, 1 d posttournament, and 2 d posttournament. Total distance; low-, moderate-, and high-intensity running; and physical contacts during matches were derived from global positioning system–based time–motion analysis and video-based notational analysis, respectively. Internal match load was calculated by session rating of perceived exertion and playing time (rating of perceived exertion × duration). Results: Well-being (P < .001), fatigue (P < .001), general muscle soreness (P < .001), stress levels (P < .001), mood (P = .005), and total quality of recovery (P < .001) were significantly impaired after match day 1 and did not return to baseline values until 2 d posttournament. More high-intensity running was related to more fatigue (r = −.60, P = .049) and a larger number of physical contacts with more general muscle soreness (r = −.69, P = .013). Conclusion: Perceived well-being and total quality of recovery were already impaired after match day 1, although performance was maintained. High-intensity running and physical contacts were predominantly related to fatigue and general muscle soreness, respectively.

Doeven, Brink, Huijgen, and Lemmink are with the Center for Human Movement Sciences, University of Groningen, University Medical Center Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands. Doeven and de Jong are with the School of Sport Studies, Hanze University of Applied Sciences, Groningen, the Netherlands.

Doeven (s.h.doeven@pl.hanze.nl) is corresponding author.
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