Preseason training for American college football players involves roughly 4 weeks of intense training, typically in hot and humid conditions. Heat stress is exacerbated by protective equipment requirements. The high concentration of training in extreme conditions put players at risk of injury and/or excessive fatigue. It’s no surprise that injury right are highest during the preseason period relative to other phases. Therefore, coaches are interested in managing fatigue and recovery in football players to optimize training adaptations and minimize injury risk. One of the simplest athlete-monitoring tools available are self-reported wellness measures. Provided that athletes are honest when filling out the questionnaires, subjects ratings of fatigue and recovery status may be useful for evaluating how individuals are adapting to training.
A new study published ahead of print in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research looked at the effects of previous day training demands on perceptual responses among a team of NCAA division 1 football players during preseason training. Movement demands were quantified by GPS devices with integrated tri-axial accelerometers which players wore between their shoulder blades for each practice session. Wellness questionnaires that had athletes rate their perceived levels of fatigue, soreness, mood, stress, sleep quality and sleep quantity on a 1-5 point scale were completed daily before training. The researchers sought to determine if training outputs affect subsequent day recovery status ratings.
The results showed that athletes who tended to accomplish the greatest training demands during practice (e.g., total distance covered, high intensity accelerations and decelerations, etc) reported greater levels of perceived soreness, fatigue and poorer sleep quantity compared with athletes who experience lower workloads. Stress, mood and sleep quality demonstrated less variation among groups. Overall, the wellness questionnaires demonstrated sensitivity to training load, indicating that these appear to be a useful tool for monitoring training effects in football players. Coaches may use wellness questionnaire data to assess how individuals are coping with training and therefore make appropriate interventions for fatigued athletes.
Wellman AD. et al. Movement demands and perceived wellness associated with pre-season training camp in NCAA Division I college football players. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. In press.