Mood states

High-level college swimmers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the States were studied for a research project published in 1991

The swimmers were assessed for psychological status over a four-year period, the measure being taken throughout the training and competitive seasons. The training programme followed was fairly standard and similar each year – 3000m per day rising to about 13,000m per day at the training peak, followed by a taper for about a month down to 3500m prior to major competition…

The measure taken was the Profile of Mood States (POMS), a standard method of assessing mood state which has been shown to be sensitive to training load…

The results showed that the training loads carried out by the swimmers when volume was greatest were sufficient to create negative mood profiles. The individual measures of depression, anger, fatigue and confusion all increased, while the measure of vigour decreased dramatically. In fact, it was the measures of fatigue and vigour which were altered the most by the heavy training – and these are perhaps the most sensitive in the short term. However, all measures returned towards normal when training load was reduced during the tapering period…

Importantly, the measure of depression did not increase excessively, and also returned towards pre-training values during the tapering period. This was important because this variable has been shown to be affected most in those athletes who slip into states of overtraining and experience staleness. For the high-level swimmers in the study, the training period used appeared sufficient to place a significant stress on mood profile, but not one that was too great for a tapering period to correct (Raglin and co-workers, ‘Changes in mood states during training in female and male college swimmers’, International Journal of Sports Medicine, 1991, vol.12, pp585-589)…

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