American football is a high-intensity intermittent sport consisting of various movements and repeated collisions which highlights the importance of adequate recovery from a game to prepare for the next competition. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to determine the time course of recovery markers after a youth American football game. Thirteen male American football youth players were monitored for 7 days after a single football game. Baseline measures were taken 28 hours pregame for lower-body neuromuscular function by countermovement jumps (CMJs) to determine peak power (PP), jump height (JH), flight time (FT), and takeoff velocity (TOV). Saliva was analyzed for cortisol, testosterone, and C-reactive protein (CRP). Perceptual recovery was assessed by the modified profile of mood states (POMS), perceived recovery status (PRS), and a daily wellness questionnaire. These measures were repeated immediately postgame (30 minutes) and at 20, 44, 68, 92, 116, and 140 hours postgame. Compared with baseline values, there was a significant decrease (p < 0.05) in CMJ PP, JH, and TOV up to 68 hours postgame and FT 44 hours postgame. No significant difference existed among time points for salivary testosterone and CRP. Cortisol levels significantly increased postgame compared with baseline (p < 0.05). Total mood disturbance, assessed by POMS, and daily wellness markers for energy were significantly decreased (p < 0.05), whereas daily wellness markers for soreness were significantly increased (p < 0.05) immediately after the game. Players exhibited a significant decrease in PRS up to 44 hours postgame (p < 0.05), similar to the decrease in neuromuscular function. Neuromuscular function and PRS are impaired for up to 44–68 h postgame.
J Strength Cond Res (2021) 35(5):1317-1325.