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Aaron J. Coutts

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Helen Alexiou and Aaron J. Coutts

Purpose:

The purpose of this study was to compare the session-RPE method for quantifying internal training load (TL) with various HR-based TL quantification methods in a variety of training modes with women soccer players.

Methods:

Fifteen elite women soccer players took part in the study (age: 19.3 ± 2.0 y and VO2max: 50.8 ± 2.7 mL·kg−1·min−1). Session-RPE, heart rate, and duration were recorded for 735 individual training sessions and matches over a period of 16 wk. Correlation analysis was used to compare session-RPE TLs with three commonly used HR-based methods for assessing TL.

Results:

The mean correlation for session-RPE TL with Banister’s TRIMP, LTzone TL and Edwards’s TL were (r = 0.84, 0.83, and 0.85, all P < .01, respectively). Correlations for session-RPE TL and three HR-based methods separated by session type were all significant (all P < .05). The strongest correlations were reported for technical (r = 0.68 to 0.82), conditioning (r = 0.60 to 0.79), and speed sessions (r = 0.61 to 0.79).

Conclusion:

The session-RPE TL showed a significant correlation with all training types common to soccer. Higher correlations were found with less intermittent, aerobic-based training sessions and suggest that HR-based TLs relate better to session-RPE TLs in less intermittent training activities. These results support previous findings showing that the session-RPE TL compares favorably with HR-based methods for quantifying internal TL in a variety of soccer training activities.

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Thomas Kempton and Aaron J. Coutts

Purpose:

To describe the physical and technical demands of rugby league 9s (RL9s) match play for positional groups.

Methods:

Global positioning system data were collected during 4 games from 16 players from a team competing in the Auckland RL9s tournament. Players were classified into positional groups (pivots, outside backs, and forwards). Absolute and relative physical-performance data were classified as total high-speed running (HSR; >14.4 km/h), very-high-speed running (VHSR; >19.0 km/h), and sprint (>23.0 km/h) distances. Technical-performance data were obtained from a commercial statistics provider. Activity cycles were coded by an experienced video analyst.

Results:

Forwards (1088 m, 264 m) most likely completed less overall and high-speed distances than pivots (1529 m, 371 m) and outside backs (1328 m, 312 m). The number of sprint efforts likely varied between positions, although differences in accelerations were unclear. There were no clear differences in relative total (115.6−121.3 m/min) and HSR (27.8−29.8 m/min) intensities, but forwards likely performed less VHSR (7.7 m/min) and sprint distance (1.3 m/min) per minute than other positions (10.2−11.8 m/min, 3.7−4.8 m/min). The average activity and recovery cycle lengths were ~50 and ~27 s, respectively. The average longest activity cycle was ~133 s, while the average minimum recovery time was ~5 s. Technical involvements including tackles missed, runs, tackles received, total collisions, errors, off-loads, line breaks, and involvements differed between positions.

Conclusions:

Positional differences exist for both physical and technical measures, and preparation for RL9s play should incorporate these differences.

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Samuel Ryan, Thomas Kempton, and Aaron J. Coutts

Purpose: To apply data reduction methods to athlete-monitoring measures to address the issue of data overload for practitioners of professional Australian football teams. Methods: Data were collected from 45 professional Australian footballers from 1 club during the 2018 Australian Football League season. External load was measured in training and matches by 10-Hz OptimEye S5 and ClearSky T6 GPS units. Internal load was measured via the session rate of perceived exertion method. Perceptual wellness was measured via questionnaires completed before training sessions with players providing a rating (1–5 Likert scale) of muscle soreness, sleep quality, fatigue, stress, and motivation. Percentage of maximum speed was calculated relative to individual maximum velocity recorded during preseason testing. Derivative external training load measures (total daily, weekly, and monthly) were calculated. Principal-component analyses (PCAs) were conducted for Daily and Chronic measures, and components were identified via scree plot inspection (eigenvalue > 1). Components underwent orthogonal rotation with a factor loading redundancy threshold of 0.70. Results: The Daily PCA identified components representing external load, perceived wellness, and internal load. The Chronic PCA identified components representing 28-d speed exposure, 28-d external load, 7-d external load, and 28-d internal load. Perceived soreness did not meet the redundancy threshold. Conclusions: Monitoring player exposure to maximum speed is more appropriate over chronic than short time frames to capture variations in between-matches training-cycle duration. Perceived soreness represents a distinct element of a player’s perception of wellness. Summed-variable and single-variable approaches are novel methods of data reduction following PCA of athlete monitoring data.

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Katie Slattery, Stephen Crowcroft, and Aaron J. Coutts

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Alan McCall, Maurizio Fanchini, and Aaron J. Coutts

In high-performance sport, science and medicine practitioners employ a variety of physical and psychological tests, training and match monitoring, and injury-screening tools for a variety of reasons, mainly to predict performance, identify talented individuals, and flag when an injury will occur. The ability to “predict” outcomes such as performance, talent, or injury is arguably sport science and medicine’s modern-day equivalent of the “Quest for the Holy Grail.” The purpose of this invited commentary is to highlight the common misinterpretation of studies investigating association to those actually analyzing prediction and to provide practitioners with simple recommendations to quickly distinguish between methods pertaining to association and those of prediction.