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Dan Weaving, Phil Marshall, Keith Earle, Alan Nevill, and Grant Abt


This study investigated the effect of training mode on the relationships between measures of training load in professional rugby league players.


Five measures of training load (internal: individualized training impulse, session rating of perceived exertion; external—body load, high-speed distance, total impacts) were collected from 17 professional male rugby league players over the course of two 12-wk preseason periods. Training was categorized by mode (small-sided games, conditioning, skills, speed, strongman, and wrestle) and subsequently subjected to a principal-component analysis. Extraction criteria were set at an eigenvalue of greater than 1. Modes that extracted more than 1 principal component were subjected to a varimax rotation.


Small-sided games and conditioning extracted 1 principal component, explaining 68% and 52% of the variance, respectively. Skills, wrestle, strongman, and speed extracted 2 principal components each explaining 68%, 71%, 72%, and 67% of the variance, respectively.


In certain training modes the inclusion of both internal and external training-load measures explained a greater proportion of the variance than any 1 individual measure. This would suggest that in training modes where 2 principal components were identified, the use of only a single internal or external training-load measure could potentially lead to an underestimation of the training dose. Consequently, a combination of internal- and external-load measures is required during certain training modes.

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Dan Weaving, Clive Beggs, Nicholas Dalton-Barron, Ben Jones, and Grant Abt

Purpose: To discuss the use of principal-component analysis (PCA) as a dimension-reduction and visualization tool to assist in decision making and communication when analyzing complex multivariate data sets associated with the training of athletes. Conclusions: Using PCA, it is possible to transform a data matrix into a set of orthogonal composite variables called principal components (PCs), with each PC being a linear weighted combination of the observed variables and with all PCs uncorrelated to each other. The benefit of transforming the data using PCA is that the first few PCs generally capture the majority of the information (ie, variance) contained in the observed data, with the first PC accounting for the highest amount of variance and each subsequent PC capturing less of the total information. Consequently, through PCA, it is possible to visualize complex data sets containing multiple variables on simple 2D scatterplots without any great loss of information, thereby making it much easier to convey complex information to coaches. In the future, athlete-monitoring companies should integrate PCA into their client packages to better support practitioners trying to overcome the challenges associated with multivariate data analysis and interpretation. In the interim, the authors present here an overview of PCA and associated R code to assist practitioners working in the field to integrate PCA into their athlete-monitoring process.

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Cedric Leduc, Dan Weaving, Cameron Owen, Mathieu Lacome, Carlos Ramirez-Lopez, Maj Skok, Jason C. Tee, and Ben Jones

Purpose: Sleep is recognized as an important recovery strategy, yet little is known regarding its impact on postmatch fatigue. The aims of this study were to (1) describe sleep and postmatch fatigue, (2) understand how sleep is affected by contextual and match factors, and (3) assess how changes in sleep can affect postmatch fatigue. Methods: Twenty-three male rugby union players were monitored across 1 season (N = 71 player–match observations). Actigraphy was used during preseason to establish baseline sleep quality and quantity. Sleep was then measured 1 and 2 days after each match day (MD + 1 and MD + 2). Global positioning systems, notational analysis, and rating of perceived exertion represented external and internal load from matches. Subjective wellness and a standardized run were used to characterize postmatch fatigue 2 days prior (baseline) and at MD + 1 and MD + 2. Linear mixed models established the magnitude of change (effect size [ES]) between baseline, MD + 1, and MD + 2 for sleep and postmatch fatigue. Stepwise forward selection analysis ascertained the effect of match load on sleep and the effect of sleep on postmatch fatigue. Each analysis was combined with magnitude-based decisions. Results: Sleep characteristics and neuromuscular and perceptual postmatch fatigue were negatively affected at MD + 1 and MD + 2 (ES = small to very large). Kickoff and travel time had the greatest effect on sleep (ES = small). Wellness and soreness were influenced by sleep (fall-asleep time and fragmentation index) and collisions, respectively (ES = small). Conclusion: Sleep quality and quantity were affected independently of the match load (ie, running activity) sustained, and changes in sleep marginally affected postmatch fatigue.

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Jonathon Weakley, Carlos Ramirez-Lopez, Shaun McLaren, Nick Dalton-Barron, Dan Weaving, Ben Jones, Kevin Till, and Harry Banyard

Purpose: Prescribing resistance training using velocity loss thresholds can enhance exercise quality by mitigating neuromuscular fatigue. As little is known regarding performance during these protocols, we aimed to assess the effects of 10%, 20%, and 30% velocity loss thresholds on kinetic, kinematic, and repetition characteristics in the free-weight back squat. Methods: Using a randomized crossover design, 16 resistance-trained men were recruited to complete 5 sets of the barbell back squat. Lifting load corresponded to a mean concentric velocity (MV) of ∼0.70 m·s−1 (115 [22] kg). Repetitions were performed until a 10%, 20%, or 30% MV loss was attained. Results: Set MV and power output were substantially higher in the 10% protocol (0.66 m·s−1 and 1341 W, respectively), followed by the 20% (0.62 m·s−1 and 1246 W) and 30% protocols (0.59 m·s−1 and 1179 W). There were no substantial changes in MV (−0.01 to −0.02 m·s−1) or power output (−14 to −55 W) across the 5 sets for all protocols, and individual differences in these changes were typically trivial to small. Mean set repetitions were substantially higher in the 30% protocol (7.8), followed by the 20% (6.4) and 10% protocols (4.2). There were small to moderate reductions in repetitions across the 5 sets during all protocols (−39%, −31%, −19%, respectively), and individual differences in these changes were small to very large. Conclusions: Velocity training prescription maintains kinetic and kinematic output across multiple sets of the back squat, with repetition ranges being highly variable. Our findings, therefore, challenge traditional resistance training paradigms (repetition based) and add support to a velocity-based approach.

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Dan Weaving, Nicholas E. Dalton, Christopher Black, Joshua Darrall-Jones, Padraic J. Phibbs, Michael Gray, Ben Jones, and Gregory A.B. Roe

Purpose: To identify which combination metrics of external and internal training load (TL) capture similar or unique information for individual professional players during skills training in rugby union using principal-component (PC) analysis. Methods: TL data were collected from 21 male professional rugby union players across a competitive season. This included PlayerLoad™, total distance, and individualized high-speed distance (>61% maximal velocity; all external TL) obtained from a microtechnology device (OptimEye X4; Catapult Innovations, Melbourne, Australia) that was worn by each player and the session rating of perceived exertion (RPE) (internal TL). PC analysis was conducted on each individual to extract the underlying combinations of the 4 TL measures that best describe the total information (variance) provided by the measures. TL measures with PC loadings (PCL) above 0.7 were deemed to possess well-defined relationships with the extracted PC. Results: The findings show that from the 4 TL measures, the majority of an individual’s TL information (first PC: 55–70%) during skills training can be explained by session RPE (PCL: 0.72–0.95), total distance (PCL: 0.86–0.98), or PlayerLoad (PCL: 0.71–0.98). High-speed distance was the only variable to relate to the second PC (PCL: 0.72–1.00), which captured additional TL information (+19–28%). Conclusions: Findings suggest that practitioners could quantify the TL of rugby union skills training with one of PlayerLoad, total distance, or session RPE plus high-speed distance while limiting omitted information of the TL imposed during professional rugby union skills training.