Estimating Postmatch Fatigue in Soccer: The Effect of Individualization of Speed Thresholds on Perceived Recovery

TomazolI L.G., Marques J., Farooq A., Silva J.R.

Purpose: This study investigates the effectiveness of different individualization methods of speed zones during match-play to estimate post-match perceptual recovery in soccer.

Methods: Twelve under 19 players undertook field-based assessments to determine their maximal aerobic speed (MAS) and maximal sprint speed (MSS). External load (extracted from 10 Hz GPS over 10 official matches) was measured and classified into four categories:

Low-speed running
Moderate-speed running
High-speed running (HSR)
Match running distribution into different speed zones were categorized using either:

MAS and MSS as measures of locomotor capacities (LOCO)
Using absolute values (ABS)
Players perceived recovery status (PRS) was recorded post (Post), 24 hours (G+24H), and 48 hours after each game (G+48H).

Results: Different individualization methods resulted in distinct match outputs within each locomotor category. The PRS was lower (p < 0.001) at Post (3.8 ± 1.32, 95% CI = 3.6-4.2), G+24H (5.2 ± 1.48, 95% CI = 4.9-5.6), and G+48H (6.0 ± 1.22, 95% CI = 5.7-6.3) compared to pre-match values (7.1 ± 1.05, 95% CI = 6.8-7.3). The absolute PRS score was better associated with HSR using the LOCO method at Post (Beta = -1.7, 95% CI = -3.2, -0.22, p = 0.027), G+24H (Beta = -2.08, 95% CI = -3.22, -0.95, p = 0.001), and G+48H (Beta = -1.32, 95% CI = -2.2, -0.4, p = 0.004) compared with other individualization methods. Conclusions: Our results suggest that LOCO may better characterize the match intensity distribution (particularly for the HSR and sprinting categories) and should be preferred over MAS and MSS to estimate perceived recovery.

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