Psychological monitoring of overtraining and staleness

Br J Sports Med. 1987 Sep;21(3):107-14. doi: 10.1136/bjsm.21.3.107.


It is widely agreed that overtraining should be employed in order to achieve peak performance but it is also recognised that overtraining can actually produce decrements in performance. The challenge appears to be one of monitoring stress indicators in the athlete in order to titrate the training stimulus and prevent the onset of staleness. The present paper summarises a ten-year research effort in which the mood states of competitive swimmers have been monitored at intervals ranging from 2-4 weeks during individual seasons for the period 1975-1986. The training cycle has always involved the indoor season which extends from September to March and the athletes who served as subjects were 200 female and 200 male competitive swimmers. The results indicate that mood state disturbances increased in a dose-response manner as the training stimulus increased and that these mood disturbances fell to baseline levels with reduction of the training load. Whilst these results have been obtained in a realistic setting devoid of experimental manipulation, it is apparent that monitoring of mood state provides a potential method of preventing staleness.

MeSH terms

  • Affect* / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Physical Education and Training*
  • Psychological Tests
  • Stress, Psychological* / etiology
  • Swimming*
  • Time Factors