Cortisol and stress responses during a game and practice in female collegiate soccer players

J Strength Cond Res. 2007 May;21(2):583-8. doi: 10.1519/R-20496.1.


The purpose of this study was to compare the cortisol responses from a regular season game and a typical practice session in female National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I collegiate soccer players. Eighteen players were assigned to 2 groups, 10 starters and 8 nonstarters, depending on their playing time. Salivary cortisol concentration, as well as competitive sport anxiety (somatic and cognitive anxiety, self-confidence), was monitored before and after 1 regular season game and 1 typical practice session. Although salivary cortisol levels increased postgame for both starters (+250%) and nonstarters (+140%), they increased to a greater extent for the starters. Practice salivary cortisol did not significantly change (p > 0.05). Cognitive and somatic anxiety was greater pre- and postgame when compared with the pre- and postpractice scores, respectively. These data clearly demonstrate the psychological and physiological differences between soccer competition and practice in collegiate women. It appears that both physiological and psychological variables combine to contribute to the large stress hormone response to an actual competitive game.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Body Composition
  • Competitive Behavior / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / analysis*
  • Saliva / chemistry
  • Soccer / physiology*
  • Soccer / psychology*
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology*


  • Hydrocortisone