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Eur J Appl Physiol. 2010 Jul;109(5):869-78. doi: 10.1007/s00421-010-1422-x. Epub 2010 Mar 14.

Determinants of the variability of heart rate measures during a competitive period in young soccer players.

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Performance Enhancement and Talent Identification Section, ASPIRE, Academy for Sports Excellence, P.O. Box 22287, Doha, Qatar.


Measurements of exercise heart rate (HR(ex)), HR recovery (HRR) and HR variability (HRV) are used as indices of training status. However, the day-to-day variability of these indices throughout a competitive soccer period is unknown. On 14 occasions during a 3-week competition camp, 18 under 15 (U15) and 15 under 17 (U17) years soccer players performed a 5-min submaximal run, followed by a seated 5-min recovery period. HR(ex) was determined during the last 30 s of exercise, while HRR and HRV were measured during the first and last 3 min of the post-exercise recovery period, respectively. U15 players displayed greater HR(ex) (P = 0.02) and HRR (P = 0.004) compared with the U17 players, but there was no difference in HRV (P = 0.74). The mean coefficient of variation (CV) for HR(ex) was lower than that for HRV [3.4 (90% CL, 3.1, 3.7) vs. 10.7 (9.6, 11.9)%, P < 0.001]; both were lower than that for HRR [13.3 (12.2, 14.3)%, P < 0.01]. In contrast to HR(ex) and HRR, the CV for HRV was correlated to maximal aerobic speed (r = -0.52, P = 0.002). There was no correlation between total activity time (training sessions + matches) and CV of any of the quantified variables. The variability of each of these measures and player fitness levels should be considered when interpreting changes in training status.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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