Preprint / Version 1

Planning the microcycle in elite football: to rest or not to rest?

Injuries and days off-feet in elite football


  • Martin Buchheit Kitman Labs
  • Maxime Settembre
  • Karim Hader
  • Derek McHugh



planning, programming, rest day, injury, soccer, elite football


Purpose: To examine the association between the programming of days off (i.e., no pitch training, days off-feet) within turnarounds of varying length and injury rate in elite soccer.

Methods: Retrospective data from 56 team-seasons, belonging to 18 elite teams performing in top leagues including the EPL, the Italian Serie A, the Bundesliga, the Scottish Premiership, the MLS and the Dutch Eredivisie from January 2018 to December 2021 were analysed (total of 1578 players, 2865 injuries, 2859 non-international matches and 12939 training session days). The turnarounds examined lasted from 3 to 8 days. Only injuries with ≥3-day time loss were retained for analysis. We then looked at the injury rate within each microcycle in relation to the presence of a day off or not, and its programming sequences in relation to the previous match (i.e., day off at D+1 vs D+2 for the day after the match or the following, respectively).

Results: During 3- and 7-d turnarounds, the sequences including the day off-feet at D+2 were associated with 2 to 3 times lower overall non-contact injury rates than the other programming sequences (Cohens’ d: 0.9 to 2.7). For the other turnarounds, the differences between the sequences were unclear.

Conclusion: The programming of a day off (or at least ‘off-feet’) at D+2 may be associated with moderately-to-largely lower incidences of non-contact injuries, especially during 3- and 7-d turnarounds.


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