Effects of cold-water immersion on physical performance between successive matches in high-performance junior male soccer players

Greg J. Rowsell*, Aaron J. Coutts, Peter Reaburn, Stephen Hill-Haas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

129 Citations (Scopus)


In this study, we investigated the effect of water immersion on physical test performance and perception of fatigue/recovery during a 4-day simulated soccer tournament. Twenty high-performance junior male soccer players (age 15.9 ± 0.6 years) played four matches in 4 days and undertook either cold-water immersion (10 ± 0.5°C) or thermoneutral water immersion (34 ± 0.5°C) after each match. Physical performance tests (countermovement jump height, heart rate, and rating of perceived exertion after a standard 5-min run and 12 × 20-m repeated sprint test), intracellular proteins, and inflammatory markers were recorded approximately 90 min before each match and 22 h after the final match. Perceptual measures of recovery (physical, mental, leg soreness, and general fatigue) were recorded 22 h after each match. There were non-significant reductions in countermovement jump height (1.7-7.3%, P = 0.74, η2 = 0.34) and repeated sprint ability (1.0-2.1%, P = 0.41, η2 = 0.07) over the 4-day tournament with no differences between groups. Post-shuttle run rating of perceived exertion increased over the tournament in both groups (P < 0.001, η2 = 0.48), whereas the perceptions of leg soreness (P = 0.004, η2 = 0.30) and general fatigue (P = 0.007, η2 = 0.12) were lower in the cold-water immersion group than the thermoneutral immersion group over the tournament. Creatine kinase (P = 0.004, η2 = 0.26) and lactate dehydrogenase (P < 0.001, η2 = 0.40) concentrations increased in both groups but there were no changes over time for any inflammatory markers. These results suggest that immediate post-match cold-water immersion does not affect physical test performance or indices of muscle damage and inflammation but does reduce the perception of general fatigue and leg soreness between matches in tournaments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)565-573
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Sports Sciences
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2009
Externally publishedYes


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