[Project initiated in November 2013 / data collected in December 2013-January-Feb 2014 / Paper submitted in March 2013 / Accepted 13th of April 2014 – Thanks IJSPP !]
Purpose. The aim of the present study was to quantify the physiological, psychometric and performance effects of a 2-week Christmas break in a professional Australian Football League (AFL) club.
Methods. A series of physiological (e.g., heart rate (HR) response to a 5-min submaximal run and skinfolds thickness), psychometric (rate of perceived exertion (RPE) responses and wellness variables) and performance (running activity during standardized handball games, isometric mid-thigh pull (IMTP) peak force and counter movement jump (CMJ) measures were conducted in the weeks before and after the break.
Results. There was a possible and small increase in the sum of the 7 skinfolds, whilst body mass and free fat mass remained possible and likely unchanged, respectively. Sleep and stress scores remained likely-to-almost certainly unchanged, but there were some small, possible-to-likely decreases in fatigue and soreness scores. HR and RPE responses to the 5-min submaximal run were likely slightly lower (i.e., improved) after the break. High-intensity running and acceleration distance during a standard handball game were very-likely slightly greater, while HR and RPE responses to the game were possibly-to-very likely unchanged. HR responses to a high-intensity training session remained very likely unchanged. There was also a likely small increase IMTP peak Force, but likely-to-very likely no change in CMJ variables.
Conclusions. Our results show that players returned from a 2-week break during pre-season well recovered, with preserved to improved levels of strength and cardiorespiratory fitness, despite small increases in skinfold thickness.