Assessing assessment tools (of training load)

Every training session is different. Some are highly taxing on the aerobic system but have little CNS or biomechanical load. Others may be the opposite. Depending on which metric you use to assess the training load you may get a completely different readings of the training load. If you are lucky enough to have a team heart rate monitoring system or a team full of GPS monitors for each player, they may tell you different things about the session and how hard it was on your players. As the study below indicates, sometimes the best way to find out what you want to know is to ask. If you’re not regularly asking your players how they feel or how hard the session was you might not be getting the best read on their training load. Fancy monitoring systems are great and a welcome advancement to the sport and the field of athletic development in general. But don’t ignore low-tech, low-cost,?commonsense tools of yesterday.


J Strength Cond Res.?2011 Aug;25(8):2100-3.

Relation between total body load and session rating of perceived exertion in professional?soccer?players.

Gomez-Piriz PT,?Jim?nez-Reyes P,?Ruiz-Ruiz C.


Department of Physical Education and Sport, University of Seville, Seville, Spain.


The aims of this study were to assess (a) the validity of total body load (TBL)-obtained from the global position system (GPS) devices-to quantify soccer?training load, assessing its relationship with session rating of perceived exertion (session-RPE) and (b) to analyze the differences in terms of TBL and session-RPE among defenders, midfielders, and forwards. Twenty-two professional?soccer?players (Spanish first division, season 2007-2008; 26.74 ? 4.2 years; height 179.74 ? 4.04 cm; weight 73.7 ? 3.35 kg) participated in the study. During 13 training sessions composed predominantly of small-sided games, TBL and RPE multiplied by the minutes of session duration were determined using?GPS?and the 21-point scale, respectively. In each session, data from 10 players randomly selected and classified according to player position (defenders, midfielders, and forwards) were collected. Although session-RPE was a significant predictor of TBL (? = 0.23, p < 0.05), this method only accounted for 5% of the variance in TBL. No significant differences in terms of TBL and session-RPE were found regarding player position. The results of this study suggest that TBL is not a valid measure to quantify training load because it is not strongly correlated with session-RPE. Furthermore, TBL and session-RPE in small-sided?soccer?games do not vary according to player positions.

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Mike Young

Director of Performance at Athletic Lab
Mike is the Head Fitness Coach for the North Carolina Courage and North Carolina FC. He is also the owner and Director of Performance at Athletic Lab sports performance training center. He previously served as the fitness coach for the Vancouver Whitecaps and Carolina Railhawks. He has a PhD in Biomechanics, an MS in Coaching Science, and a BSS in Exercise Physiology and has coached Olympic and professional athletes in Skeleton, Track & Field, MLS and NASL Soccer, PGA Golf, NFL Football, MLB Baseball and Olympic Weightlifting. He has lectured around the world and authored 2 books and dozens of research and coaching articles.