The aim of the present study was to find early markers for overreaching that are applicable in sport practice. In a group of elite soccer players aged 15–18, the stress–recovery balance and reaction times before and after exercise were assessed. Overreaching was indicated by an elevated submaximal heart rate during a sport-specific field test. Submaximal changes in heart rate were prospectively monitored by means of monthly Interval Shuttle Run Tests during two competitive seasons. Out of 94 players, seven players with an elevated heart rate of at least one month could be included in the study, together with seven controls, matched for age, body composition, training and performance level. The stress–recovery balance was assessed with the Dutch version of the Recovery Stress Questionnaire (RESTQ-Sport). The soccer players with an elevated heart rate reported a disturbed stress–recovery balance (Mann–Whitney test, P<0.05). An ANOVA for repeated measures of reaction times revealed a significant main effect of time (F 1,12=13.87, P<0.01) indicating an improvement of psychomotor speed. No differences between groups were found. We conclude that soccer players with an elevated submaximal heart rate of at least one month share a disturbed stress–recovery balance, but they could not be distinguished from controls based on reaction time after strenuous exercise.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-214
JournalEuropean journal of sport science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • team sport
  • overtraining
  • stress recovery balance


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