• overtraining;
  • stress–recovery balance;
  • football;
  • fatigue;
  • staleness

The aim of this study was to prospectively monitor sport-specific performance and assess the stress–recovery balance in overreached (OR) soccer players and controls. During two competitive seasons, 94 players participated in the study. The stress–recovery balance (RESTQ-Sport) and sport-specific performance (Interval Shuttle Run Test) were assessed monthly. Seven players with performance decrement of at least a month were classified as OR. Stress and recovery measures were assessed between groups (OR vs healthy players) and at different times within the OR group. An unfavorable total recovery score appeared 2 months before diagnosis when compared with the reference values of the healthy group established at the start of the season (P=0.009) and also over the two seasons (P=0.028). The scales Emotional Stress (P=0.044), Physical Recovery (P=0.009), General Well-being (P=0.001) and Sleep Quality (P=0.045) were sensitive to OR compared with the average of the healthy group over the two seasons. Finally, Fatigue and Being in Shape demonstrated the largest changes in stress and recovery within the OR players (effect size=1.14 and 1.50). The longitudinal monitoring of performance and changes in stress and recovery may be useful for the detection of OR in its earliest stage. The information obtained from these tests can be used to optimize individual training and recovery programs.