Physiological, Psychometric, and Performance Effects of the Christmas Break in Australian Football

Buchheit, M., Morgan, W., Wallace, J., Bode, M., Poulos, N.

The aim of this study was to assess the physiological, psychometric, and performance effects of a 2-week Christmas break in a professional Australian Football League club. Various measures were conducted before and after the break.

Results indicated a possible small increase in the sum of 7 skinfolds, while body mass and fat-free mass remained possible and likely unchanged, respectively. Sleep and stress scores remained likely to almost certainly unchanged, although there were small, possible to likely decreases in fatigue and soreness scores. Heart-rate (HR) and rating-of-perceived-exertion (RPE) responses to a 5-minute submaximal run were likely slightly lower (improved) after the break.

During standardized handball games, high-intensity running and acceleration distance were very likely slightly greater post-break, while HR and RPE responses were possibly to very likely unchanged. HR responses to a high-intensity training session remained very likely unchanged. Additionally, there was a likely small increase in isometric midthigh pull (IMTP) peak force, but likely to very likely no change in countermovement jump (CMJ) variables.

In conclusion, the findings suggest that players returned from a 2-week break during preseason well-recovered, with preserved to improved levels of strength and cardiorespiratory fitness, despite small increases in skinfold thickness.

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