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Purpose: To examine the general perspectives of elite soccer players on the time course of perceived postmatch fatigue and the influence of away matches on subjective perceptions. Methods: Adopting a cross-sectional study design, we invited 371 subjects from 14 top-division European clubs competing in the Belgian First Division A, English Premier League, French Ligue 1, Italian Serie A, Portuguese Primeira Liga, Russian Premier League, and Swiss Premier League to take part in a short survey on general issues relating to postmatch fatigue measurement and tracking in professional soccer. Results: Three hundred male professional soccer players completed the short questionnaire. For perceptions relevant to the time course of postmatch fatigue, two-thirds of respondents (67%) indicated higher postmatch fatigue perceived 2 days (48 h) after an official competition. Among these respondents, a higher proportion of answers was observed in wide midfielders (74%), attackers (74%), and central midfielders (68%). Approximately two-thirds of respondents (63%) indicated more than usual and much more than usual perceived postmatch fatigue following away matches. Conclusions: For the first time, our investigation addressed practical aspects that remained unexplored and fundamental to the definition of an optimal player management process following a competition. From a practical standpoint, perspectives of individual elite soccer players substantiated the notion of implementing processes with dedicated recovery protocols within 48 hours postmatch and highlighted the need for differential strategies addressing the additional burden of away matches and travel.
Di Salvo (firstname.lastname@example.org) is corresponding author, https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6756-3305