Optimal Pretaper Phase on Physical Match Performance in Professional Soccer

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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Purpose: To investigate the optimal pretaper duration on match running performance in a professional soccer team. Methods: The training load was monitored during daily training sessions and matches during 2 seasons according to different periodization strategies. Matches’ running distances were collected using match analysis system. The data were analyzed in 3 types of mesocycle blocks of 5 (M5), 4 (M4), and 3 weeks (M3), concludes all of them by 1 taper week. Results: Significant decreases in the training load during the taper weeks compared to standard weeks were observed in 3 types of mesocycle blocks (d ≥ 5; P < .01). An increase in overall match running performance was observed in matches played after the taper weeks compared to matches played after the standard weeks during M4 for all speed ranges (d ≥ 1.3; P < .05). The increase was only observed in low-intensity running (d = 1.3; P < .04) and total distance, low-intensity running, and intense running (d ≥ 1.3; P < .05) in M5 and M3, respectively. Match running performance following the taper weeks between the 3 different mesocycle durations was significantly higher in M4 for the number of high-speed running, sprinting, and high-intensity running (P < .05). The greatest enhancement of match running performance was observed at M4 when the training load was decreased by approximately 18% during the tapering period. Conclusion: This study suggests that a period of 3 standard weeks of training followed by 1 taper week is the optimal taper strategy when compared to different pretaper durations.

Moalla, Fessi, and Nouira are with UR 15JS01 EM2S: Education, Motricity, Sport and Health, High Inst of Sport and Physical Education, University of Sfax, Sfax, Tunisia. Mendez-Villanueva and Di Salvo are with the Football Performance & Science Dept, Aspire Academy, Doha, Qatar. Di Salvo is also with the Dept of Movement Human and Health Sciences, University of Rome “Foro Italico,” Rome, Italy. Ahmaidi is with EA-3300, Adaptations Physiologiques à l’Exercice et Réadaptation à l’Effort, UFR des Sciences du Sport, Université de Picardie Jules-Verne, Amiens, France.

Fessi (saifelfessi@gmail.com) is corresponding author.
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