Quantification of Training and Competition Load Across a Season in an Elite Australian Football Club

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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Purpose:

Load monitoring in Australian football (AF) has been widely adopted, yet team-sport periodization strategies are relatively unknown. The authors aimed to quantify training and competition load across a season in an elite AF team, using rating of perceived exertion (RPE) and GPS tracking.

Methods:

Weekly totals for RPE and GPS loads (including accelerometer data; PlayerLoad) were obtained for 44 players across a full season for each training modality and for competition. General linear mixed models compared mean weekly load between 3 preseason and 4 in-season blocks. Effects were assessed with inferences about magnitudes standardized with between-players SD.

Results:

Total RPE load was most likely greater during preseason, where the majority of load was obtained via skills and conditioning. There was a large reduction in RPE load in the last preseason block. During in-season, half the total load came from games and the remaining half from training, predominantly skills and upper-body weights. Total distance, high-intensity running, and PlayerLoad showed large to very large reductions from preseason to in-season, whereas changes in mean speed were trivial across all blocks. All these effects were clear at the 99% level.

Conclusions:

These data provide useful information about targeted periods of loading and unloading across different stages of a season. The study also provides a framework for further investigation of training periodization in AF teams.

Ritchie and Bartlett are with the Inst of Sport Exercise and Active Living, Melbourne, VIC, Australia. Hopkins is with the Sport Performance Research Inst New Zealand, AUT University, Auckland, New Zealand. Buchheit is with the Performance Dept, Paris Saint-Germain Football Club, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France. Cordy is with Gold Coast Suns FC, QSL, Australia.

Address author correspondence to Jonathan Bartlett at Jon.Bartlett@vu.edu.au.