Changes in maximal power output and perceptual fatigue responses during a Division I female collegiate soccer season



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The purpose of this study was to investigate how maximal power output (P[subscript max]), as measured via the inertial load technique, changes throughout a collegiate soccer season in relation to training load completed. Furthermore, this study also aimed to describe the time course of recovery of [maximal power output] following two collegiate soccer matches in one weekend. The current investigation involved two experimental periods. The first took place throughout the 2010 Big XII soccer season. Nineteen Division I female collegiate soccer players (19.9 ± 1.2 yrs, 165.1 ± 6.6 cm, 61.0 ± 6.8 kg) from the same collegiate soccer team completed regular inertial load testing and perceptual fatigue questionnaires throughout this study period. These athletes' training was not altered in any way by the investigators throughout the 2010 season. During the second experimental period, two off-season matches were played in one weekend during the 2011 off-season. Training was prescribed by coaches, with the aim of simulating an in-season training week. [Maximal power output] and perceptual fatigue responses were monitored every day throughout the second study period. All training and matches throughout the study were monitored via the session RPE method. The results demonstrated that STARTERS experience much greater load throughout the season than NON-STARTERS (p<0.05, 2247 ± 176 AU and 1585 ± 174 AU), accounted for by increased load experienced during matches. This increased training load throughout the season lead to a decline in [maximal power output] in STARTERS (to 92.3 ± 6%, p<0.05) whilst [maximal power output] was maintained in NON-STARTERS (p>0.05) for the duration of the season. Furthermore, STARTERS experienced greater muscle soreness throughout the in-season period compared to NON-STARTERS. During the second experimental period [maximal power output] declined (p<0.05, 93.3 ± 7%) two days following matches played on the weekend and remained reduced for three days. Notably, two heavy training days in the middle of the training week appeared to have detrimental effects on both [maximal power output] and perceptual fatigue responses. The main finding of this study is that [maximal power output] declined throughout the middle and latter parts of the season in STARTERS, after experiencing significantly greater training loads than NON-STARTERS throughout the season. The current findings, combined with previous investigations, suggest that the inertial load technique may be useful in monitoring fatigue in team sport athletes.