Background: The effect of the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown on athlete sleep and training behavior is documented, albeit without a worldwide soccer-specific focus. Method: Soccer (football) players (N = 1639; 30 countries; age 22.5 [5.7] y; 81% ≤25 y; 56% male; 30% elite; 66% Muslim) answered a retrospective, cross-sectional questionnaire related to their behavioral habits before and during COVID-19 lockdown (survey period July to September 2020), including (1) Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index PSQI, (2) Insomnia Severity Index (ISI), (3) bespoke questions about training behaviors, and (4) Muslim player focused sleep and training behavior questions. Results: During lockdown (compared to prelockdown), PSQI (P < .001; moderate effect size [ES]) and ISI (P < .001; moderate ES) scores were higher in the overall sample and in elite versus nonelite (PSQI: P < .05; small ES and ISI: P < .001; small ES), >25 years versus ≤25 years (PSQI: P < .01; small ES and ISI: P < .001; moderate ES), females versus males (PSQI: P < .001; small ES), <1 month versus >1 month lockdown (PSQI: P < .05; small ES and ISI: P < .05; small ES), and players maintaining versus reducing training intensity (PSQI: P < .001; moderate ES and ISI: P < .001; small ES). Muslim players (41%) reported unfavorable sleep and/or training behaviors during Ramadan in lockdown compared to lockdown outside of Ramadan. Conclusions: Specific subgroups appear more vulnerable to lockdown effects, with training-intensity maintenance moderating negative effects relative to sleep. Policy and support (respectful of subgroup nuances) during lockdown-like challenges that facilitate training (including intensity) appear prudent, given their favorable relationship with sleep, mental health, and physical health, in the present data and elsewhere.
Soccer Players’ Sleep Quality and Training Load Were Affected by the COVID-19 Lockdown: An International Survey
Mohamed Romdhani, Jad Adrian Washif, Lee Taylor, Karim Chamari, and
Improved Physical Performance and Decreased Muscular and Oxidative Damage With Postlunch Napping After Partial Sleep Deprivation in Athletes
Mohamed Romdhani, Nizar Souissi, Yassine Chaabouni, Kacem Mahdouani, Tarak Driss, Karim Chamari, and Omar Hammouda
Purpose: To investigate the effects of napping after partial sleep deprivation (PSD) on reaction time, mood, and biochemical response to repeated-sprint exercise in athletes. Methods: Nine male judokas performed 4 test sessions in a counterbalanced and randomized order. Participants accomplished 1 control session after a normal sleep night (NSN) and 3 after PSD with (1) no nap, (2) ∼20-min nap (N20), and (3) ∼90-min nap (N90) opportunities. Test sessions included the running-based anaerobic sprint test, reaction time, Hooper index, and Epworth Sleepiness Scale. Muscle-damage biomarkers and antioxidant status were evaluated before and after exercise. Results: PSD decreased maximum (P < .001, d = 1.12), mean (P < .001, d = 1.33), and minimum (P < .001, d = 1.15) powers compared with NSN. However, N20 and N90 enhanced maximum power compared with PSD (P < .05, d = 0.54; P < .001, d = 1.06, respectively). Minimum power and mean power increased only after N90 (P < .001, d = 1.63; P < .001, d = 1.16, respectively). Epworth Sleepiness Scale increased after PSD (P < .001, d = 0.86) and decreased after N20 (P < .001, d = 1.36) and N90 (P < .001, d = 2.07). N20 reduced multiple-choice reaction time (P < .001, d = 0.61). Despite performance decrement, PSD increased postexercise aspartate aminotransferase (P < .001, d = 4.16) and decreased glutathione peroxidase (P < .001, d = 4.02) compared with NSN. However, the highest performances after N90 were accompanied with lesser aspartate aminotransferase (P < .001, d = 1.74) and higher glutathione peroxidase (P < .001, d = 0.86) compared with PSD. Conclusions: Napping could be preventive against performance degradation caused by sleep loss. A short nap opportunity could be more beneficial when the subsequent effort is brief and requires frequent decision making. However, a longer nap opportunity could be preventive against muscle and oxidative damage, even for higher performances.
Caffeine Use or Napping to Enhance Repeated Sprint Performance After Partial Sleep Deprivation: Why Not Both?
Mohamed Romdhani, Nizar Souissi, Imen Moussa-Chamari, Yassine Chaabouni, Kacem Mahdouani, Zouheir Sahnoun, Tarak Driss, Karim Chamari, and Omar Hammouda
Purpose: To compare the effect of a 20-minute nap opportunity (N20), a moderate dose of caffeine (CAF; 5 mg·kg−1), or a moderate dose of caffeine before N20 (CAF+N) as possible countermeasures to the decreased performance and the partial sleep deprivation–induced muscle damage. Methods: Nine male, highly trained judokas were randomly assigned to either baseline normal sleep night, placebo, N20, CAF, or CAF+N. Test sessions included the running-based anaerobic sprint test, from which the maximum (P max), mean (P mean), and minimum (P min) powers were calculated. Biomarkers of muscle, hepatic, and cardiac damage and of enzymatic and nonenzymatic antioxidants were measured at rest and after the exercise. Results: N20 increased P max compared with placebo (P < .01, d = 0.75). CAF+N increased P max (P < .001, d = 1.5; d = 0.94), P min (P < .001, d = 2.79; d = 2.6), and P mean (P < .001, d = 1.93; d = 1.79) compared with placebo and CAF, respectively. Postexercise creatine kinase increased whenever caffeine was added, that is, after CAF (P < .001, d = 1.19) and CAF+N (P < .001, d = 1.36). Postexercise uric acid increased whenever participants napped, that is, after N20 (P < .001, d = 2.19) and CAF+N (P < .001, d = 2.50) and decreased after CAF (P < .001, d = 2.96). Conclusion: Napping improved repeated-sprint performance and antioxidant defense after partial sleep deprivation. Contrarily, caffeine increased muscle damage without improving performance. For sleep-deprived athletes, caffeine before a short nap opportunity would be more beneficial for repeated sprint performance than each treatment alone.
Training Practices of Football Players During the Early COVID-19 Lockdown Worldwide
Jad Adrian Washif, Iñigo Mujika, Matthew D. DeLang, João Brito, Alexandre Dellal, Thomas Haugen, Bahar Hassanmirzaei, Del P. Wong, Abdulaziz Farooq, Gürhan Dönmez, Kwang Joon Kim, Juan David Peña Duque, Lewis MacMillan, Ryo Matsunaga, Alireza Rabbani, Mohamed Romdhani, Montassar Tabben, Yacine Zerguini, Piotr Zmijewski, David B. Pyne, and Karim Chamari
The COVID-19 lockdown challenged the training options of athletes worldwide, including players from the most popular sport globally, football/soccer. Purpose: The authors explored the training practices of football players worldwide during the COVID-19 lockdown. Methods: Football players (N = 2482, 30% professional, 22% semipro, and 48% amateur) completed an online survey (May–July 2020) on their training practices before versus during lockdown (March–June 2020). Questions were related to training frequency and session duration, as well as training knowledge and attitudes. Results: Before lockdown, more professional (87%) than semipro (67%) and amateur (65%) players trained ≥5 sessions/wk, but this proportion decreased during the lockdown to 55%, 35%, and 42%, respectively. Players (80%–87%) trained ≥60 minutes before lockdown, but this proportion decreased to 45% in professionals, 43% in amateurs, and 36% in semipros during lockdown. At home, more than two-thirds of players had training space (73%) and equipment (66%) for cardiorespiratory training, while availability of equipment for technical and strength training was <50% during lockdown. Interactions between coach/trainer and player were more frequent (ie, daily) among professional (27%) than amateur (11%) and semipro (17%) players. Training load monitoring, albeit limited, was mostly performed by fitness coaches, more so with professionals (35%) than amateurs (13%) and semipros (17%). The players’ training knowledge and attitudes/beliefs toward training were relatively modest (50%–59%). Conclusion: COVID-19 lockdown negatively affected training practices of football players worldwide, especially amateurs and semipros, for example, in training frequency, duration, intensity, technical, recovery, and other fitness training and coaching-related aspects. During lockdown-like situations, players should be monitored closely and provided appropriate support to facilitate their training.
COVID-19 Lockdown: A Global Study Investigating the Effect of Athletes’ Sport Classification and Sex on Training Practices
Jad Adrian Washif, Øyvind Sandbakk, Stephen Seiler, Thomas Haugen, Abdulaziz Farooq, Ken Quarrie, Dina C. Janse van Rensburg, Isabel Krug, Evert Verhagen, Del P. Wong, Iñigo Mujika, Cristina Cortis, Monoem Haddad, Omid Ahmadian, Mahmood Al Jufaili, Ramzi A. Al-Horani, Abdulla Saeed Al-Mohannadi, Asma Aloui, Achraf Ammar, Fitim Arifi, Abdul Rashid Aziz, Mikhail Batuev, Christopher Martyn Beaven, Ralph Beneke, Arben Bici, Pallawi Bishnoi, Lone Bogwasi, Daniel Bok, Omar Boukhris, Daniel Boullosa, Nicola Bragazzi, Joao Brito, Roxana Paola Palacios Cartagena, Anis Chaouachi, Stephen S. Cheung, Hamdi Chtourou, Germina Cosma, Tadej Debevec, Matthew D. DeLang, Alexandre Dellal, Gürhan Dönmez, Tarak Driss, Juan David Peña Duque, Cristiano Eirale, Mohamed Elloumi, Carl Foster, Emerson Franchini, Andrea Fusco, Olivier Galy, Paul B. Gastin, Nicholas Gill, Olivier Girard, Cvita Gregov, Shona Halson, Omar Hammouda, Ivana Hanzlíková, Bahar Hassanmirzaei, Kim Hébert-Losier, Hussein Muñoz Helú, Tomás Herrera-Valenzuela, Florentina J. Hettinga, Louis Holtzhausen, Olivier Hue, Antonio Dello Iacono, Johanna K. Ihalainen, Carl James, Saju Joseph, Karim Kamoun, Mehdi Khaled, Karim Khalladi, Kwang Joon Kim, Lian-Yee Kok, Lewis MacMillan, Leonardo Jose Mataruna-Dos-Santos, Ryo Matsunaga, Shpresa Memishi, Grégoire P. Millet, Imen Moussa-Chamari, Danladi Ibrahim Musa, Hoang Minh Thuan Nguyen, Pantelis T. Nikolaidis, Adam Owen, Johnny Padulo, Jeffrey Cabayan Pagaduan, Nirmala Panagodage Perera, Jorge Pérez-Gómez, Lervasen Pillay, Arporn Popa, Avishkar Pudasaini, Alizera Rabbani, Tandiyo Rahayu, Mohamed Romdhani, Paul Salamh, Abu-Sufian Sarkar, Andy Schillinger, Heny Setyawati, Navina Shrestha, Fatona Suraya, Montassar Tabben, Khaled Trabelsi, Axel Urhausen, Maarit Valtonen, Johanna Weber, Rodney Whiteley, Adel Zrane, Yacine Zerguini, Piotr Zmijewski, Helmi Ben Saad, David B. Pyne, Lee Taylor, and Karim Chamari
Purpose: To investigate differences in athletes’ knowledge, beliefs, and training practices during COVID-19 lockdowns with reference to sport classification and sex. This work extends an initial descriptive evaluation focusing on athlete classification. Methods: Athletes (12,526; 66% male; 142 countries) completed an online survey (May–July 2020) assessing knowledge, beliefs, and practices toward training. Sports were classified as team sports (45%), endurance (20%), power/technical (10%), combat (9%), aquatic (6%), recreational (4%), racquet (3%), precision (2%), parasports (1%), and others (1%). Further analysis by sex was performed. Results: During lockdown, athletes practiced body-weight-based exercises routinely (67% females and 64% males), ranging from 50% (precision) to 78% (parasports). More sport-specific technical skills were performed in combat, parasports, and precision (∼50%) than other sports (∼35%). Most athletes (range: 50% [parasports] to 75% [endurance]) performed cardiorespiratory training (trivial sex differences). Compared to prelockdown, perceived training intensity was reduced by 29% to 41%, depending on sport (largest decline: ∼38% in team sports, unaffected by sex). Some athletes (range: 7%–49%) maintained their training intensity for strength, endurance, speed, plyometric, change-of-direction, and technical training. Athletes who previously trained ≥5 sessions per week reduced their volume (range: 18%–28%) during lockdown. The proportion of athletes (81%) training ≥60 min/session reduced by 31% to 43% during lockdown. Males and females had comparable moderate levels of training knowledge (56% vs 58%) and beliefs/attitudes (54% vs 56%). Conclusions: Changes in athletes’ training practices were sport-specific, with few or no sex differences. Team-based sports were generally more susceptible to changes than individual sports. Policy makers should provide athletes with specific training arrangements and educational resources to facilitate remote and/or home-based training during lockdown-type events.