Perceptions of Wellness to Monitor Adaptive Responses to Training and Competition in Elite Australian Football

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Abstract

Gastin, PB, Meyer, D, and Robinson, D. Perceptions of wellness to monitor adaptive responses to training and competition in elite australian football. J Strength Cond Res 27(9): 2518–2526, 2013—Perceptions of wellness are often used by athletes and coaches to assess adaptive responses to training. The purpose of this research was to describe how players were coping with the demands of elite level Australian football over a competitive season using subjective ratings of physical and psychological wellness and to assess the ecological validity of such a monitoring approach. Twenty-seven players completed ratings for 9 items (fatigue, general muscle, hamstring, quadriceps, pain/stiffness, power, sleep quality, stress, well-being). Players subjectively rated each item as they arrived at the training or competition venue on a 1–5 visual analog scale, with 1 representing the positive end of the continuum. A total of 2,583 questionnaires were analyzed from completions on 183 days throughout the season (92 ± 24 per player, 103 ± 20 per week; mean ± SD). Descriptive statistics and multilevel modelling were used to understand how player ratings of wellness varied over the season and during the week leading into game day and whether selected player characteristics moderated these relationships. Results indicated that subjective ratings of physical and psychological wellness were sensitive to weekly training manipulations (i.e., improve steadily throughout the week to a game day low, p < 0.001), to periods of unloading during the season (i.e., a week of no competition, p < 0.05) and to individual player characteristics (e.g., muscle strain after a game was poorer in players with high maximum speed, p < 0.01). It is concluded that self-reported player ratings of wellness provide a useful tool for coaches and practitioners to monitor player responses to the rigorous demands of training, competition, and life as a professional athlete.

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