Managing Load to Optimize Well-Being and Recovery During Short-Term Match Congestion in Elite Basketball

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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In elite basketball, players are exposed to intensified competition periods when participating in both national and international competitions. How coaches manage training between matches and in reference to match scheduling for a full season is not yet known. Purpose: First, to compare load during short-term match congestion (ie, ≥2-match weeks) with regular competition (ie, 1-match weeks) in elite male professional basketball players. Second, to determine changes in well-being, recovery, neuromuscular performance, and injuries and illnesses between short-term match congestion and regular competition. Methods: Sixteen basketball players (age 24.8 [2.0] y, height 195.8 [7.5] cm, weight 94.8 [14.0] kg, body fat 11.9% [5.0%], VO2max 51.9 [5.3] mL·kg−1·min−1) were monitored during a full season. Session rating of perceived exertion (s-RPE) was obtained, and load was calculated (s-RPE × duration) for each training session or match. Perceived well-being (fatigue, sleep quality, general muscle soreness, stress levels, and mood) and total quality of recovery were assessed each training day. Countermovement jump height was measured, and a list of injuries and illnesses was collected weekly using the adapted Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center Questionnaire on Health Problems. Results: Total load (training sessions and matches; P < .001) and training load (P < .001) were significantly lower for ≥2-match weeks. Significantly higher well-being (P = .01) and less fatigue (P = .001) were found during ≥2-match weeks compared with 1-match weeks. Conclusion: Total load and training load were lower during short-term match congestion compared with regular competition. Furthermore, better well-being and less fatigue were demonstrated within short-term match congestion. This might indicate that coaches tend to overcompensate training load in intensified competition.

Doeven, Brink, 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. Huijgen is with the Dept of Psychology, University of Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands.

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