Effects of different post-match recovery interventions on subsequent athlete hormonal state and game performance

Physiol Behav. 2012 Jun 25;106(4):471-5. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2012.03.015. Epub 2012 Mar 21.


We tested the effects of different post-match recovery interventions on the subsequent hormonal responses to a physical stress-test and game performance in professional rugby union players. On four occasions, participants (n=12) completed a video session (1 h each) with accompanying coach feedback the day after a rugby union match. The interventions showed either video footage of player mistakes with negative coach feedback (NCF1) or player successes with positive feedback (PCF1). Both approaches were repeated (NCF2 and PCF2). In the following week, participants were assessed for their free testosterone (T) and cortisol (C) responses to a physical stress-test, pre-game T and game-ranked performance. The PFC1 and PCF2 approaches were both associated with significantly (p<0.01) greater free T (36% to 42%) responses to the stress-test when compared to NCF1 and NCF2 (16% to -3%), respectively. The PCF interventions were also associated with higher (28% to 51%) pre-game T concentrations and superior game-ranked performances than the NCF approaches (p<0.01). In conclusion, the post-game presentation of specific video footage combined with different coach feedbacks appeared to influence the free hormonal state of rugby players and game performance several days later. Therefore, within the sporting context, future behaviour and performance might be modified through the use of simple psychological strategies. These data are applicable to generalised human stress responses and their modifiability by prior exposure to a stressor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Athletic Performance / physiology*
  • Exercise Test
  • Feedback, Psychological / physiology
  • Football / physiology*
  • Hormones / blood*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood
  • Male
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Saliva / chemistry
  • Saliva / metabolism
  • Sample Size
  • Testosterone / analysis
  • Testosterone / metabolism
  • Young Adult


  • Hormones
  • Testosterone
  • Hydrocortisone