Other Subject Area

Sport science


International Journal of Exercise Science 16(6): 242-251, 2023. Cortisol is a hormone that corresponds to physiological and emotional stress. The purpose of this study was to 1) evaluate the changes in cortisol in female Division I collegiate lacrosse players (n = 15) throughout the competitive season, and 2) evaluate the correlation between cortisol and athlete wellness and workload. Salivary cortisol samples were collected weekly in the morning throughout the entirety of the 2021 competitive season (12 weeks). Subjective athlete total wellness scores and sub-scores (muscle soreness, sleep quality, fatigue, and stress) were taken on the same days. Objective total weekly Athlete Load (AL, an amalgam workload metric) were tabulated from the previous training week. A significant effect of time was found on wellness (p < 0.001) and AL (p < 0.001) over the twelve weeks with weekly differences, such as weeks with more than one game, weeks with no games, weeks with students in quarantine (not competing), or weeks with academic stressors such as final exams. There were no weekly differences in cortisol (p = 0.058). Cortisol had negligible correlations with wellness (r = -0.010, p = 0.889) and AL (r = 0.083, p = 0.272) during the competitive season. These findings suggest that cortisol changed little for athletes throughout the season although training volume and wellness did. Thus, assessing acute responses of cortisol may prove to be more beneficial to evaluating athletes’ stress.