To anticipate outstanding athletic outcomes, the selection process of elite athletes simultaneously considers psychophysiological and technical parameters. This study aimed to investigate whether selected and nonselected athletes for the Italian national taekwondo team could be discriminated by means of sportspecific performances and psychophysiological responses to training.
5 established Italian national athletes and 20 elite Italian taekwondo black belt athletes (9 women, 16 men; age 23.0 ± 3.1 y; body mass 67.0 ± 12.1 kg).
To update the Italian national-team roster, the 20 elite athletes participated in a 1-wk selection camp (7 training sessions). Selected athletes (n = 10) joined established national athletes during the following 3-wk national training period (7 training sessions/wk). During the 1-wk selection camp, differences (P < .05) between selected and nonselected athletes in performances, heart-rate responses, blood lactate accumulation [La], subjective ratings of perceived exertion (session RPE), and mood were examined. During the 3-wk national training period, differences (P < .05) in mood between selected and established national athletes were investigated.
With respect to nonselected athletes, selected athletes responded better to training in terms of session RPE (P = .047) and [La] (P = .046). No difference in performance and mood between subgroups emerged. After the 3-wk national training period, differences (P = .035) emerged for confusion, with decreases in the established national athletes and increases for recently selected athletes.
Session RPE and [La] seem to be more effective than psychological measures in discriminating between elite taekwondo athletes. Evaluation of mood could be effective in monitoring athletes’ response to national training.