Fatigue and Recovery in Soccer: Evidence and Challenges

Diego Marqués-Jiménez1, *, Julio Calleja-González1, Iñaki Arratibel1, Anne Delextrat2, Nicolás Terrados3, 4
1 Physical Education and Sport Department, University of Basque Country (UPV-EHU), Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain
2 Sport and Health Sciences Department, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, UK
3 Department of Functional Biology, University of Oviedo, Oviedo, Spain
4 Regional Unit of Sports Medicine of Asturias, Aviles, Spain

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© 2017 Marqués-Jiménez et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Faculty of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences, University of Basque Country (UPV-EHU) Physical Education and Sport Department – Faculty of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences (UPV-EHU), Portal de Lasarte, 71, 01007, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain; Tel: 0034 6660275738; E-mail:



Soccer presents physiological, metabolic, physical and psychological demands which can deteriorate players’ performance due to fatigue. The high variability in physiological, metabolic, physical and psychological responses also influences the magnitude of exercise-induced muscle damage, with symptoms negatively affecting neuromuscular function during recovery or subsequent training sessions or matches. Consequently, more precise and consistent knowledge is required in this area to optimize training and performance.


Therefore, the purpose is to sum-up current evidence on fatigue and recovery in soccer players, to shed light on factors that can affect players’ performance, and to suggest applications for coaches and further research.


A comprehensive review of the scientific literature on the field was conducted.


Physical performance decrements during matches have traditionally been associated with physiological fatigue, but the magnitude of the symptoms in soccer players is unclear and depends on several factors. Moreover, the decline in physical performance during a soccer match is related to specific demands of each match. These could explain inter-individual variability in acute fatigue or training recovery processes when comparing players from the same team. Recovery counteracts the effects of fatigue, both peripheral and central, but there is a lack of consensus about the usefulness of tests used to monitor fatigue and recovery kinetics.


Although fatigue and recovery in soccer has been extensively studied, there are still uncertainties about the underlying mechanisms because they are influenced by physiological and match-related demands.

Keywords: Football, Markers, Metabolism, Physiology, Stress, Training.