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When we look at how individuals become less liable to injury, overtraining and other things that can negatively impact performance in sport or life, we have to take into account the person and how they are approaching their lives. 

By Dr. Mark Bellamy PhD Cpsychol AFBPsS

We need to account for how an individual approaches their life, their organisational abilities, stressors and their impact, plus how they are coping with current levels of training (as a very minimum).

There will always be interplay between the physical and psychological capabilities of an individual and that with hard training, we are almost guaranteed to get low mood state. A programme of studies with athletes at the University of Wisconsin (Morgan et al, 1987) had the following major findings:

• Global mood disturbance (the sum of tension, depression, anger, fatigue and confusion scores minus vigour) increases significantly as the training load increase.

• Following decreases in training load, global mood disturbance returns to baseline. So there is a dose response to training and mood.

• Brief periods of taper or rest may be sufficient to restore a more positive mood state. 

• Stale athletes, defined by both mood and performance deterioration, demonstrate symptoms similar to that seen in clinical depression. 

• Similar mood changes were not found in non-athletic college students and thus may be attributed to athletes’ training regimes. 

• A dose response relationship between mood and training load appears to hold across sports.

• There is great individual variability in mood response to intense training. 

So there are plenty of psychological impacts of training, and it is critical that the impact on your mood that you experience is a simple function of training, which you will bounce back from rather than something that will lead you into staleness and overtraining. 

We need to be managing this stuff – get it wrong and not only may we see performance drop, but we may also be getting into a danger zone indicating staleness and overtraining. 

Self monitoring and self responsibility are key here. Everyone has their tipping point and one of the key roles of anyone in sport is maintenance of their own health. Knowing yourself and understanding your own response to training, are key to long term success. If this is an area for work in your sporting career, contact Dr Mark Bellamy to discuss the way forward.

References: Morgan, W.P.,  D.R.Brown., J.S. Raglin., P.J. O’Connor., K.A. Ellickson. 1987. Psychological monitoring of overtraining and staleness. British journal of Sports Medicine 21: 107 -114. 

Dr Mark Bellamy PhD Cpsychol AFBPsS is a Performance Psychologist based in Herefordshire. Consultations are available via Skype, or in person at a Hereford location of your choice, or at your workplace. 

Tel: 07941 040 013   Email:

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