Importance of Rest and Recovery
When teams enter the competition phase or more importantly the serious competition phase, managing recovery between games and between games and high intensity training sessions is vital. In all the major contact games the musculoskeletal, nervous, immune and metabolic systems are stressed to a point where recovery strategies post‐exercise become influential in preparing for the next match (Reilly and Ekblom, 2005).
Many team presently go on training camps, some even play 2 challenge games on one week-end. according to Reilly and Ekblom (2005) two consecutive games in 24 h produce disturbances in the testosterone – cortisol ratio. They go on to state that “when competitive schedules are congested, the recovery process should be optimized for performance capabilities to be restored to normal as soon as possible. There is evidence that glycogen stores are reduced near to depletion at the end of a soccer game and that a diet high in carbohydrates can aid recovery. Water alone is not the best means of restoring body fluids, since carbohydrate-electrolyte drinks display better intestinal absorption and reduce urine output. Some relief from muscle soreness may be achieved by means of a warm-down”.
What many team coaches do not appreciate is that athletes/players blessed with white muscle fibres do not recover as easily or as quickly as those who have the endurance type fibres in more abundance. So your fast players will suffer more from a high intensity game or even from a high intensity training session more that the slower players. So handling each type at the ensuing training session needs monitoring that much coaches/trainers neglect.
Reilly and Ekblom (2005) concluded that optimizing recovery post‐exercise depends on a combination of factors that incorporate a consideration of individual differences and even lifestyle factors. The procedures to facilitate recovery processes should start immediately the game or training finishes. Managers, coaches or trainers should consider the stressful consequences for players in periods of congested fixtures and alleviate the physiological strain as far as possible by allowing 72 h between competitive games or between games and another intense training session.
Of course strengthen and conditioning programmes can assist players to be fitter, stronger and faster but in order to ensure a long and enjoyable future in the sports there is more to training programmes than pushing intense and senseless training sessions continuously.
Reference: Reilly, T. & Ekblom, B. (2005). The use of recovery methods post-exercise. Journal of Sports Sciences. Vol 23, Issue 6. pp 619-627.