Monitoring training load in athletes is currently a hot topic among coaches in the strength and conditioning community. With technological advancements, coaches now have numerous ways of quantifying the physical stress load experienced by their athletes. The sport of football is unique in that it involves explosive bursts of activity, involving considerable physical contact. Unlike other collision sports like rugby or hockey, football is not continuous as there are frequent stoppages between plays and series. Until recently, the effectiveness of perceived measures of exertion as a means of quantifying internal training load in football players has not been investigated.
A group of researchers from the University of Saskatchewan collected session rating of perceived exertion (sRPE) values from 20 of the University of Saskatchewan football team players throughout pre-season camp and the competitive season. Approximately 30 minutes after each practice, players would provide an sRPE value from a 10 point scale which was then multiplied by the duration of the practice (in minutes). The football players wore heart rate monitors during practice under their shoulder pads. From the heart rate data, Polar TRIMP and Edwards Training Load were determined and served as criterion values from which sRPE would be compared. Strong correlations were found between sRPE of the practice sessions and both criterion measures of training load (r = 0.65 – 0.91).
In a sport where athletes are pushed to their physical limits on a regular basis, there is a high risk of injury and overtraining. The results of the current study provide support for a simple, non-invasive and inexpensive method for monitoring training load in football players. If you work with athletes, consider using sRPE as a variable to consider when planning and adjusting practice intensity.
Clarke, N., Farthing, J. P., Norris, S. R., Arnold, B. E., & Lanovaz, J. L. (2013). Quantification of training load in Canadian Football: Application of Session-RPE in collision-based team sports. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 27(8): 2198-2205. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31827e1334