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J Sports Sci. 2009 Aug;27(10):1087-94. doi: 10.1080/02640410903096611.

Load, stress, and recovery in adolescent rugby union players during a competitive season.

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School of Exercise Science, Australian Catholic University, Sydney, NSW, Australia.


Despite increased professionalization of adolescent sport and improved articulation to elite adult participation, the impact of sports such as rugby union among adolescents is under-explored. This study describes psychological stress-recovery responses relative to training loads in 106 male adolescent rugby union players. The results showed that players with the highest training and physical activity volumes during the season demonstrated more favourable recovery-stress states than moderate- and low-volume groups. Stress and under-recovery did not increase with increases in weekly volume when assessed across a season. When assessed more acutely during intensive competition phases, stress and under-recovery increased with increases in participation demands. Despite better psychological stress and recovery profiles of more elite, higher-load players, not all participants demonstrated favourable capacities to deal with stress and recovery processes. Seven participants were in at least two of three categories of highest volume, highest stress, and poorest recovery. Even in the absence of a full understanding of the impact of high-volume, high-stress, poor-recovery participation among adolescent athletes, these markers may be precursors for more deleterious outcomes such as injury, performance decrements, and overtraining. Findings support the efficacy of serially monitoring young athletes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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