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Mohamed Saifeddin Fessi and Wassim Moalla

Purpose: To assess postmatch perceived exertion, feeling, and wellness according to the match outcome (winning, drawing, or losing) in professional soccer players. Methods: In total, 12 outfield players were followed during 52 official matches where the outcomes (win, draw, or lose) were noted. Following each match, players completed both a 10-point Borg scale modified by Foster and an 11-point Hardy and Rejeski scale rating of perceived feeling. Rating of perceived sleep quality, stress, fatigue, and muscle soreness was collected separately on a 7-point scale the day following each match. Results: Player rating of perceived exertion was higher by a very large magnitude following a loss compared with a draw or a win and higher by a small magnitude after a draw compared with a win. Players felt more pleasure after a win compared with a draw or loss and more displeasure after a loss compared with draw. The players reported a largely and moderately better perceived sleep quality, less stress, and fatigue following a win compared with a draw or a loss and a moderately bad perceived sleep quality, higher stress, and fatigue following a draw compared with a loss. In contrast, only a trivial-small change was observed in perceived muscle soreness between all outcomes. Conclusion: Match outcomes moderately to largely affect rating of perceived exertion, feeling, sleep quality, stress, and fatigue, whereas perceived muscle soreness remains high regardless of the match outcome. However, winning a match decreases the strain and improves both pleasure and wellness in professional soccer players.

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Wassim Moalla, Mohamed Saifeddin Fessi, Sabeur Nouira, Alberto Mendez-Villanueva, Valter Di Salvo, and Said Ahmaidi

Purpose: To investigate the optimal pretaper duration on match running performance in a professional soccer team. Methods: The training load was monitored during daily training sessions and matches during 2 seasons according to different periodization strategies. Matches’ running distances were collected using match analysis system. The data were analyzed in 3 types of mesocycle blocks of 5 (M5), 4 (M4), and 3 weeks (M3), concludes all of them by 1 taper week. Results: Significant decreases in the training load during the taper weeks compared to standard weeks were observed in 3 types of mesocycle blocks (d ≥ 5; P < .01). An increase in overall match running performance was observed in matches played after the taper weeks compared to matches played after the standard weeks during M4 for all speed ranges (d ≥ 1.3; P < .05). The increase was only observed in low-intensity running (d = 1.3; P < .04) and total distance, low-intensity running, and intense running (d ≥ 1.3; P < .05) in M5 and M3, respectively. Match running performance following the taper weeks between the 3 different mesocycle durations was significantly higher in M4 for the number of high-speed running, sprinting, and high-intensity running (P < .05). The greatest enhancement of match running performance was observed at M4 when the training load was decreased by approximately 18% during the tapering period. Conclusion: This study suggests that a period of 3 standard weeks of training followed by 1 taper week is the optimal taper strategy when compared to different pretaper durations.

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Mohamed S. Fessi, Fayçal Farhat, Alexandre Dellal, James J. Malone, and Wassim Moalla

Purpose: To investigate the difference between straight-line (STL) and change-of-direction (COD) intermittent-running exercises in soccer players. Methods: Seventeen male professional soccer players performed the agility T test and 6 intermittent-running exercises: 10 s at 130% of maximal aerobic speed (MAS) alternated with 10 s of rest (10-10), 15 s at 120% of MAS alternated with 15 s of rest (15-15), and 30 s at 110% of MAS alternated with 30 s of rest (30-30) both in STL and with COD. All exercises were monitored using a global positioning system. Heart rate was measured during exercises, and rating of perceived exertion (RPE) was collected postexercise. The difference (Δ) between covered distance in STL and COD exercises at a similar load was calculated, and relationships between T test and Δ distance were analyzed. Results: COD intermittent exercises showed a significantly decreased distance covered and an increase in the number of accelerations, peak heart rate, and RPE compared with STL intermittent exercises at a similar load. High relationships were observed between T-test performance and Δ distance in 10-10 (r = .72, P < .01) and 15-15 (r = .77, P < .01), whereas no significant relationships were observed between T-test performance and Δ distance in 30-30 (r = −.37, P = .2). Conclusion: Intermittent COD exercises were associated with higher acceleration, peak heart rate, and RPE than STL during 10-10 and 15-15 exercises. The ability to rapidly change direction is crucial to perform intense sport-specific running in professional soccer players.