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How much is too much? (Part 2) International Olympic Committee consensus statement on load in sport and risk of illness
  1. Martin Schwellnus1,
  2. Torbjørn Soligard2,
  3. Juan-Manuel Alonso3,
  4. Roald Bahr3,4,5,
  5. Ben Clarsen4,5,
  6. H Paul Dijkstra3,
  7. Tim J Gabbett6,
  8. Michael Gleeson7,
  9. Martin Hägglund8,
  10. Mark R Hutchinson9,
  11. Christa Janse Van Rensburg1,
  12. Romain Meeusen10,
  13. John W Orchard11,
  14. Babette M Pluim12,13,
  15. Martin Raftery14,
  16. Richard Budgett2,
  17. Lars Engebretsen2,4,15
  1. 1Faculty of Health Sciences, Institute for Sport, Exercise Medicine and Lifestyle Research, Section Sports Medicine, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
  2. 2Medical and Scientific Department, International Olympic Committee, Lausanne, Switzerland
  3. 3Sports Medicine Department, Aspetar, Qatar Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Hospital, Doha, Qatar
  4. 4Department of Sports Medicine, Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Oslo, Norway
  5. 5Olympic Training Center (Olympiatoppen), Oslo, Norway
  6. 6School of Human Movement Studies, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia and School of Exercise Science, Australian Catholic University, Brisbane, Australia
  7. 7School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK
  8. 8Division of Physiotherapy, Department of Medical and Health Sciences, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden
  9. 9Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA
  10. 10Human Physiology Research Group, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium
  11. 11School of Public Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  12. 12Medical Department, Royal Dutch Lawn Tennis Association, Amersfoort, The Netherlands
  13. 13Amsterdam Collaboration on Health and Safety in Sports, IOC Research Centre for Prevention of Injury and Protection of Athlete Health, VUmc/AMC, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  14. 14World Rugby, Dublin, Ireland
  15. 15Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
  1. Correspondence to Professor Martin Schwellnus, Faculty of Health Sciences, Institute for Sport, Exercise Medicine and Lifestyle Research, University of Pretoria, Hatfield, Pretoria 0028, South Africa; martin.schwellnus{at}


The modern-day athlete participating in elite sports is exposed to high training loads and increasingly saturated competition calendar. Emerging evidence indicates that inappropriate load management is a significant risk factor for acute illness and the overtraining syndrome. The IOC convened an expert group to review the scientific evidence for the relationship of load—including rapid changes in training and competition load, competition calendar congestion, psychological load and travel—and health outcomes in sport. This paper summarises the results linking load to risk of illness and overtraining in athletes, and provides athletes, coaches and support staff with practical guidelines for appropriate load management to reduce the risk of illness and overtraining in sport. These include guidelines for prescription of training and competition load, as well as for monitoring of training, competition and psychological load, athlete well-being and illness. In the process, urgent research priorities were identified.

  • Training
  • Training load
  • Overtraining
  • Overtraining and burnout
  • Illness

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    Martin Schwellnus Torbjørn Soligard Juan Manuel Alonso Roald Bahr Ben Clarsen H Paul Dijkstra Tim J Gabbett Michael Gleeson Martin Hägglund Mark R Hutchinson Christa Janse Van Rensburg Romain Meeusen John W Orchard Babette M Pluim Martin Raftery Richard Budgett Lars Engebretsen