Effects of a Tapering Period on Physical Condition in Soccer Players
The aim of this research was to analyze the effects of a two-week step tapering period on lower-limb muscle power, change of direction (COD) and acceleration capacities, and on the stress-recovery state in an amateur soccer team. Twenty-two male players were included in the study. Following a six-week progressive training, the sample was divided into: experimental group (n = 11), who did a two-week period of taper in which training volume was 50% reduced (intensity was kept high) and control group (n = 11), which kept on with the training. Muscle power (countermovement jump test), acceleration (10m sprint test), COD (Illinois test) and stress and recovery perceptions (RESTQ questionnaire) were evaluated before training, at the end of it (pre-tapering, PRE-TP) and after the tapering period (post-tapering, POST-TP). Following the taper, the experimental group in comparison to the control group showed significantly improved power (1029.71 ± 108.51 W/kg vs. 1084.21 ± 110.87 W/kg; p < 0.01), acceleration (1.72 ± 0.09 s vs. 1.67 ± 0.07 s; p < 0.05), and lower stress levels (1.9±0.5 vs. 1.6±0.5; p < 0.01) (PRE-TP vs. POST-TP, respectively). COD did not show significant changes. In conclusion, a two-week step tapering program was found to be an effective periodization strategy to increase muscle power and acceleration, and to reduce stress perception in soccer amateur players.