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The bottom line in sports conditioning and fitness training is stress, not
mental stress, but adaptive body stress. Athletes must put their bodies under
a certain amount of stress to increase physical capabilities. Where the stress
loads are appropriate then the athlete's performance will improve but if the
stress loads are inappropriate then a state of over-training/burnout could
come about for the athlete. Training principles identifies the need for rest to
allow the body to recover and adapt to the training loads, failure to allow the
body to recover can lead to a state of over-training.


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Symptoms indicating over exertion can be classified in the following way:

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Increased incidence of disturbances in movement (the reappearance of faults that seemed to have been overcome, cramp,
inhibitions, insecurity)
Disturbances in rhythm and flow of movement
Lack of ability to concentrate
Reduced power of differentiation and correction


Diminished powers of endurance, strength, speed. Increase in
recovery time, loss of 'sparkle' (competitive qualities)
Reduced readiness for action, fear of competition, giving-up in
face of difficult situations, especially at the finish
Confusion in competition, departure from usual tactics
Susceptibility to demoralising influences before and during
Increasing tendency to abandon the struggle

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Increased irritability, obstinacy, tendency to hysteria, grumbling,
defiance, increased quarrelsomeness, avoidance of contact with
coach and colleagues
Over sensitivity to criticism, or increasing indolence, poor
incentive, dullness, hallucination, anxiety, depression, melancholy,
Close observation can help eliminate the possibility of serious effects of overstressing. As soon as symptoms are noticed, loading should be reduced and
recovery pursued. All performance checks and competition pressures must be
removed and active recovery put in their place.

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It is possible to categorise certain factors, if permitted to accumulate, which
will bring about a state of over-training. They are as follows:

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Recovery is neglected (mistakes in the build-up of training cycles,

inadequate use of general exercise sessions for recovery)
Inappropriate increase in frequency of training or extent of loading or
density of loading
Demands are increased too quickly, so that adaptation cannot be
Too rapid increase of loading after forced breaks (injuries, illness)
Too great an extent of loadings of maximum and sub-maximum
Too high an intensity of duration loadings in endurance training
Excessive and forced technical schooling in complicated courses of
movement without adequate recovery
Excess of competitions with maximum demands, combined with
frequent disturbance of the daily routine and insufficient training
Excessive bias of training methods and units

Performance can also be affected by the following factors:
Inadequate sleep, irregular routine by day
Use of alcohol and nicotine
Excess of caffeine
Bad living conditions (noise, overcrowding, inadequate light, etc.)
Over stimulating company
Lack of free time or inability to make good use of free time (no
Nutritional deficiencies (lack of vitamins)
Rush and hurry
Frequent necessity to adjust body-weight
Taking on more stresses when already at capacity
Over burdening with family duties
Tensions within family (parents, husband, wife)
Difficulties in personal relationships
Dissatisfaction with career, studies, school
Bad assessment and marks in school, in studies, etc.
Conflict of attitudes to sport (family, superiors)
Excess of stimuli (TV, cinema)
Increased burden in one area of environment (e.g. final exams, A
Feverish colds, stomach or intestinal upsets
Chronic illnesses
After effect of infectious illness


McNair, Lorr and Doppleman (1971)

developed the Profile of Mood States
(POMS) Questionnaire for people undergoing counseling or psychotherapy.
The POMS was popularised in the area of sport and exercise through the
research Morgan & Pollock (1977)
and Morgan & Johnson (1978) . POMS,
which contains 65 questions, has subsequently demonstrated that it can be
used successfully to assess performance status in athletes.
Six mood states are used in POMS: tension, depression, anger, vigour, fatigue
and confusion. Subjects are given a score for each trait according to their
responses to certain statements which include key words such as unhappy,
tense, careless, and cheerful. For each statement, subjects indicate how they
feel at that moment, or how they felt over the previous day, few days, or
week, by choosing one of the following responses: not at all, a little,
moderately, quite a lot or extremely.

Anderson (2002)
uses a shorter questionnaire to monitor the performance
status of the athletes he coaches. Each morning the athletes assess
themselves against the following six questions:

I slept well last night

I am looking forward to today's workout
I am optimistic about my future performance
I feel vigorous and energetic
My appetite is great
I have little muscle soreness

They rate each statement on the following scale:

1 - Strongly disagree
2 - Disagree

3 - Neutral
4 - Agree
5 - Strongly agree
If their score is 20 or above then they have probably recovered enough to
continue with the training program. If their score is below 20 then they
consider rest or an easy workout until their score rises again.

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Total Quality Recovery (TQR) is a method that assesses an athlete's recovery
as a combination of recovery actions and the athlete's perceptions of recovery
(Kenntta 1998) . It is a simple test requiring no invasive tests.

RPE's are a qualitative and simple way of measuring the intensity of training.
It takes into consideration mental and physical factors that provide the
stresses of training. RPE's are often measured on a scale of 10 but if you use
a scale of 20, then you can relate them to TQR or relate recovery to training.
The main advantage is that anyone can use them and they can be done daily
with minimal effort.
Score Ratings of Perceived Exertion

Total Quality Recovery

No exertion at all

No recovery at all

Extremely light

Extremely poor recovery

Very light

Very poor recovery



Poor recovery


Slightly hard

Reasonable recovery



Good recovery


Very hard

Very good recovery


Extremely hard

Extremely good recovery


Maximum exertion

Maximum recovery


The assessment is conducted for a 24-hour period. Determine your score for
the nutrition, sleep and rest, relaxation and emotional support, stretching and
cool down sections below. A total of 20 points are available and a score of less
than 13 points indicates that recovery from training is incomplete.


Breakfast - 1 point
Lunch - 2 point
Supper - 2 points
Snacks between meals - 1 point
Carbohydrate reloading after practice - 2 points. (This assumes quality,
healthy balanced meals)
Adequate hydration
throughout the day - 1 point

during/post workouts - 1 point

Environmental factors will effect greatly how much is an adequate intake
of fluids

Good night of quality sleep - 3 points
Daily nap (20-60min) - 1 point
Quality of sleep would be measured using individual perception.

Full mental and muscular relaxation after training - 2 point
Maintaining a relaxed state throughout the day - 1 point
Here the goal is to use a variety of relaxation techniques (breathing, massage,

Proper cool down after each training period - 2 points
Stretching all the exercised muscle groups - 1 point

1. ANDERSON, O. (2002) How do you know when you are at risk of
overtraining? It's a simple matter of well you feel, sleep and eat. Peak
Performance, 163, p.1-4
2. KENNTTA, G. and HASSMEN, P. (1998) Overtraining and Recovery: A
Conceptual Model. Sports Medicine, 26(1), p. 1-16
3. McNAIR, D.M. and, LORR, M. and DROPPLEMAN, L. F. (1971) Profile of
Mood States. Educational and Industrial Testing Service, San Diego
4. MORGAN, W.P. and POLLOCK, M.L. (1977), Psychologic Characterization
of the elite distance runner. Annals of the New York Academy of
Sciences, 301, p. 382403
5. MORGAN, W.P. and JOHNSON, R.W. (1978) Personality characteristics of
successful and unsuccessful oarsmen. International Journal of Sport
Psychology, 9, p. 119-133

The following references provide additional information on this topic:
FOSTER, C. A. R. L. (1998) Monitoring training in athletes with reference
to overtraining syndrome. Medicine and science in sports and
exercise, 30 (7), p. 1164-1168
HOOPER, S. L. and MACKINNON, L. T. (1995) Monitoring overtraining in
athletes. Sports medicine, 20 (5), p. 321-327
KUIPERS, H. and KEIZER, H. A. (1988) Overtraining in elite
athletes. Sports Medicine, 6 (2), p. 79-92

If you quote information from this page in your work then the reference for
this page is:
MACKENZIE, B. (2000) Over Training [WWW] Available from: [Accessed 29/10/2016]

The following Sports Coach pages provide additional information on this topic:

Articles on Injury Prevention

Books on Sports Injuries
Hot and Cold Contrast Baths
Injury Prevention
Muscle Balance
Muscle Cramp
Over Training
Recovery from Training
Shin Splints

For further information on this topic see the following:
BEASHEL, P. and TAYLOR, J. (1996) Advanced Studies in Physical
Education and Sport. UK: Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd.
BEASHEL, P. and TAYLOR, J. (1997) The World of Sport Examined. UK:
Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd.
BIZLEY, K. (1994) Examining Physical Education. Oxford; Heinemann
Educational Publishers
DAVIS, B. et al. (2000) Physical Education and the Study of Sport. UK:
Harcourt Publishers Ltd.
GALLIGAN, F. et al. (2000) Advanced PE for Edexcel. Oxford;
Heinemann Educational Publishers
McARDLE, W. et al. (2000) Essentials of Exercise Physiology. 2nd ed.
Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins
GRISOGONO, V. (1984) Sports Injuries. UK; John Murray Publishers Ltd.
CHEW, M. (2008) The Permanent Pain Cure. London; McGraw Hill
LIDELL, L. et al. (1991) The book of Massage. Spain; Artes Graficas
RITTER, M. and ALBOHM, A. (1987) Your Injury. USA; Cooper Publishing
LINDSAY, R. et al. (1994) Treat your own Strains, Sprains and Bruises.
New Zealand; Spinal Publications Ltd.
UNGARO, A. (2002) Pilates. London; Dorling Kindersley Ltd.

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