The use of recovery strategies in professional soccer: a worldwide survey

Adam Field, Liam Harper, Bryna C. R Chrismas, Peter Fowler, Alan McCall, Darren Paul, Karim Chamari, Lee Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: To survey soccer practitioners’ recovery strategy: (i) use, (ii) perceived effectiveness and (iii) factors influencing their implementation in professional soccer. Methods: A cross42 sectional convenience sample of professional soccer club/confederation practitioners completed a web-based survey (April—July 2020). Pearson’s Chi-square and Fisher’s exact tests with Cramer’s V (φ-c) assessed relationships and their strength respectively, between the perceived effectiveness and frequency of strategy use. Results: 80 soccer practitioners (13 countries) completed the survey. The three most important recovery objectives were ‘alleviating muscle damage/fatigue’, ‘minimising injury risk’ and ‘performance optimisation’. Most frequently used strategies were active recovery, structured recovery day, extra rest day, massage, cold water therapy and carbohydrate provision [predominately on matchday (MD) and MD+1]. Relationships were identified between perceived effectiveness and frequency of strategy use for sleep medication (p<0.001, φ-c=0.48), carbohydrate provision (p=0.007, φ52 c=0.60), protein provision (p=0.007, φ- =0.63), an extra rest day (p<0.001, φ-c=0.56) and a structured recovery day (p=0.049, φ-c=0.50). Conclusions: The study demonstrates that professional soccer practitioners have a range of objectives geared towards enhancing player recovery. A disconnect is apparent between the perceived effectiveness of many recovery strategies and their frequency of use within an applied setting. Novel data outline that strategies are most frequently employed around matchday. Challenges to strategy adoption are mainly competing disciplinary interests and resource limitations. Researchers and practitioners should liaise to ensure the complexities involved with operating in an applied environment are elucidated and apposite study designs are adopted; in-turn facilitating the use of practically effective and compatible recovery modalities
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1804-1815
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
Issue number12
Early online date29 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021


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