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Two Training-Load Paradoxes: Can We Work Harder and Smarter, Can Physical Preparation and Medical Be Teammates?

Tim J. Gabbett and Rod Whiteley

The authors have observed that in professional sporting organizations the staff responsible for physical preparation and medical care typically practice in relative isolation and display tension as regards their attitudes toward training-load prescription (much more and much less training, respectively). Recent evidence shows that relatively high chronic training loads, when they are appropriately reached, are associated with reduced injury risk and better performance. Understanding this link between performance and training loads removes this tension but requires a better understanding of the relationship between the acute:chronic workload ratio (ACWR) and its association with performance and injury. However, there remain many questions in the area of ACWR, and we are likely at an early stage of our understanding of these parameters and their interrelationships. This opinion paper explores these themes and makes recommendations for improving performance through better synergies in support-staff approaches. Furthermore, aspects of the ACWR that remain to be clarified—the role of shared decision making, risk:benefit estimation, and clearer accountability—are discussed.

Open access

Monitoring Athlete Training Loads: Consensus Statement

Pitre C. Bourdon, Marco Cardinale, Andrew Murray, Paul Gastin, Michael Kellmann, Matthew C. Varley, Tim J. Gabbett, Aaron J. Coutts, Darren J. Burgess, Warren Gregson, and N. Timothy Cable

Monitoring the load placed on athletes in both training and competition has become a very hot topic in sport science. Both scientists and coaches routinely monitor training loads using multidisciplinary approaches, and the pursuit of the best methodologies to capture and interpret data has produced an exponential increase in empirical and applied research. Indeed, the field has developed with such speed in recent years that it has given rise to industries aimed at developing new and novel paradigms to allow us to precisely quantify the internal and external loads placed on athletes and to help protect them from injury and ill health. In February 2016, a conference on “Monitoring Athlete Training Loads—The Hows and the Whys” was convened in Doha, Qatar, which brought together experts from around the world to share their applied research and contemporary practices in this rapidly growing field and also to investigate where it may branch to in the future. This consensus statement brings together the key findings and recommendations from this conference in a shared conceptual framework for use by coaches, sport-science and -medicine staff, and other related professionals who have an interest in monitoring athlete training loads and serves to provide an outline on what athlete-load monitoring is and how it is being applied in research and practice, why load monitoring is important and what the underlying rationale and prospective goals of monitoring are, and where athlete-load monitoring is heading in the future.