Psychophysiological Responses to Overloading and Tapering Phases in Elite Young Soccer Players

in Pediatric Exercise Science
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This study investigated the effect of a 2-week overloading training phase followed by a 2-week tapering phase on internal training load (ITL), salivary cortisol, stress tolerance, and upper respiratory tract infections symptoms (URTI) in 11 male young soccer players (16.0 ± 0.5 yrs). Ratings of perceived exertion (session-RPE) were taken after each training session (N = 194) to determine ITL. Saliva sampling was conducted at the end of each week and cortisol concentration assessed by ELISA. DALDA and WURSS-21 questionnaires were administered every week to evaluate stress tolerance and severity of URTI respectively. The number of athletes reporting URTI symptoms was recorded. The overloading phase promoted greater ITL and a higher resting cortisol concentration than the tapering phase (P < .05). While no significant changes in stress tolerance or URTI severity were observed, the number of athletes reporting URTI symptoms was higher during the overloading phase. A significant correlation was observed between symptoms of stress and severity of URTI (rs=-.71; P = .01). The results indicate that an integrated approach using psychological measures (session-RPE and DALDA), self-reports of URTI symptoms, and endocrine responses (cortisol) to training are pertinent for monitoring young soccer players.

Freitas, Arruda, and Moreira are with the School of Physical Education and Sport, Dept. of Sport, and Aoki is with the School of Arts, Sciences and Humanities, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil. Franciscon is with the Desportivo Brasil, Porto Feliz, Brazil. Carling is with the Institute of Coaching and Performance, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK. Address author correspondence to Camila G. Freitas at camila.