Association between post-game recovery protocols, physical and perceived recovery, and performance in elite Australian Football League players

J Sci Med Sport. 2013 Mar;16(2):151-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jsams.2012.05.008. Epub 2012 Jun 21.


Objectives: To determine the associations between post-game recovery protocols and physical and perceptual recovery, and game performance in Australian Football League players.

Design: A longitudinal quasi-experimental study design was used across a season.

Methods: A full squad of 44 footballers was monitored weekly across a 23-game season. Players were required to choose from a number of recovery modalities available immediately post-game. These included floor stretching, pool stretching, bike active recovery, pool active recovery, cold-water immersion, contrast therapy and use of a compression garment. Perceptual measures of recovery were recorded throughout the week and a test of physical performance was conducted two days post-game. Game performance ratings were also recorded. The associations between the post-game recovery protocols chosen and players' perceived recovery, and physical and game performances were determined by the association rule data-mining strategy.

Results: Statistically significant associations were found between a number of post-game recovery protocols and perceptual recovery. In general, players who chose cold-water immersion, floor stretching, no active recovery (neither bike or pool) and the use of a compression garment post-game, had an increased probability of reporting greater perceptual recovery across the following week, relative to all other permutations of recovery protocols chosen. There were no associations found between post-game recovery protocol combinations and physical recovery. No associations were found between the post-game recovery methods and the next game performance.

Conclusions: Perceptual recovery among players was enhanced through the selection of specific combinations of recovery protocols post game. However, no links were found between recovery protocols and physical or game performance measures.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Athletic Performance / physiology*
  • Athletic Performance / psychology
  • Bicycling / physiology
  • Compression Bandages
  • Football / physiology*
  • Football / psychology
  • Humans
  • Hydrotherapy / methods
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Muscle Fatigue*
  • Muscle Stretching Exercises / methods*
  • Musculoskeletal Pain / etiology
  • Musculoskeletal Pain / prevention & control
  • Perception*
  • Sleep
  • Stress, Psychological
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Swimming / physiology
  • Young Adult