Monitoring Fatigue During the In-Season Competitive Phase in Elite Soccer Players

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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Purpose:

To quantify the relationship between daily training load and a range of potential measures of fatigue in elite soccer players during an in-season competitive phase (17 d).

Methods:

Total high-intensity-running (THIR) distance, perceived ratings of wellness (fatigue, muscle soreness, sleep quality), countermovement-jump height (CMJ), postexercise heart-rate recovery (HRR), and heart-rate variability (Ln rMSSD) were analyzed during an in-season competitive period (17 d). General linear models were used to evaluate the influence of daily fluctuation in THIR distance on potential fatigue variables.

Results:

Fluctuations in fatigue (r = −.51, large, P < .001), Ln rMSSD (r = −.24, small, P = .04), and CMJ (r = .23, small, P = .04) were significantly correlated with fluctuations in THIR distance. Correlations between variability in muscle soreness, sleep quality, and HRR and THIR distance were negligible and not statistically significant.

Conclusions:

Perceived ratings of fatigue and Ln rMSSD were sensitive to daily fluctuations in THIR distance in a sample of elite soccer players. Therefore, these particular markers show promise as simple, noninvasive assessments of fatigue status in elite soccer players during a short in-season competitive phase.

Thorpe, Strudwick, Drust, and Gregson are with the Research Inst for Sport and Exercise Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK. Buchheit is with the Sport Science Dept, Myorobie Association, Montvalezan, France. Atkinson is with the Health and Social Care Inst, Teesside University, Middlesbrough, UK.

Address author correspondence to Robin Thorpe at robin.thorpe@manutd.co.uk.