The Psychology of Athletic Tapering in Sport: A Scoping Review

Maxwell Stone*, Camilla Knight, Ross Hall, Catherine Shearer, Ross Nicholas, David Shearer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review

Abstract

Taper is a common training strategy used to reduced fatigue and enhance athletic performance. However, currently no review has summarised what psychological research has been conducted examining taper, what this research shows, and what future research needs to be undertaken to extend the field. Consequently, a scoping review was conducted with three aims: (a) determine the characteristics of psychological research examining taper, (b) summarise psychological research collected during taper with adult athletes and coaches, and (c) identify gaps in psychological research examining taper. Forty-eight articles were identified following an exhaustive search strategy and charted following scoping review guidelines. Results showed most research was quantitative, used a longitudinal design, conducted in swimming, triathlon, cycling, or across multiple sports, and used a university, regional, or national-level male athlete sample. Eight themes were developed to summarise the research: Mood, Perception of Effort, Perceived Fatigue and Wellness, Recovery-Stress, Taper as a Stressor Stress Tolerance, Psychological Preparation, and Cognitive Functioning. Additionally, four research recommendations were identified: (a) conducting exploratory research which examines the impact taper has on athletes’ and coaches’ competition preparation and stress experience, (b) asking more advanced psychological questions and conducting multidisciplinary research, (c) including a more diverse participant sample in studies, and (d) examining the impact of psychological interventions during taper. Overall, this scoping review has highlighted the limited research examining the psychology of taper and the need for focused research which asks more complex questions across diverse populations.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSports Medicine
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 21 Nov 2022

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