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Validity of the Session Rating of Perceived Exertion for Monitoring Exercise Demands in Youth Soccer Players

Jose A. Rodríguez-Marroyo and Carlos Antoñan


The purpose of this study was to examine the concurrent and construct validity of the Borg (0–10) and children’s OMNI scales for quantifying the exercise intensity and training load (TL) in youth soccer players.


Twelve children (mean ± SD age 11.4 ± 0.5 y, height 154.3 ± 6.5 cm, body mass 39.5 ± 5.4 kg) took part in this study. Exercise intensity and TL were calculated on the basis of the session rating of perceived exertion (sRPE) and heart rate (HR; Edwards method) during 20 technical-tactical training sessions. Players’ sRPEs were obtained from the Borg and OMNI scales.


Low correlations between HR-based TL and sRPE TL based on the Borg (r = .17, P = .335) and OMNI (r = .34, P = .007) scales were obtained. Significant (P < .001) relationships in sRPE (r = .76) and TL (r = .79) between RPE scales were found.


The current data do not support the relationship between the sRPE and HR methods for quantifying TL in youth soccer players. However, the sRPE method could be considered a better indicator of global internal TL, since sRPE is a measure of both physical and psychological stress. In addition, the authors demonstrated the construct validity for the OMNI scale to control exercise demands.

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Decrement in Professional Cyclists’ Performance After a Grand Tour

Jose A. Rodríguez-Marroyo, José G. Villa, Raúl Pernía, and Carl Foster

Purpose: To analyze professional cyclists’ performance declines after, and the exercise demands during, a Grand Tour. Methods: Seven professional cyclists performed 2 incremental exercise tests, 1 wk before and the day after the Vuelta España. During the race the exercise demands were analyzed on the basis of heart rate (HR). Three intensity zones were established according to reference HR values corresponding to the ventilatory- (VT) and respiratory-compensation (RCT) thresholds determined during the prerace test. In addition, exercise demands for the last weeks of the Vuelta were recalculated using the reference HR determined during the postrace test for the 3rd week and averaging the change observed in the VT and RCT per stage for the 2nd week. The reference HR for the beginning of the 2nd week was estimated. Results: A significant (P-value range, .044–.000) decrement in oxygen uptake, power output, and HR at maximal exercise, VT, and RCT was found after the race. Based on the prerace test, the mean time spent daily above the RCT was 13.8 ± 10.2 min. This time decreased −1.2 min·day−1 across the race. When the exercise intensity was corrected according to the postrace test, the time above RCT (34.1 ± 9.9 min) increased 1.0 min·day−1. Conclusion: These data indicate that completing a Grand Tour may result in a significant decrement in maximal and submaximal endurance performance capacity. This may modify reference values used to analyze exercise demands. As a consequence, the high-intensity exercise performed by cyclists may be underestimated.

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Reliability and Seasonal Changes of Submaximal Variables to Evaluate Professional Cyclists

Jose A. Rodríguez-Marroyo, Raúl Pernía, José G. Villa, and Carl Foster

Purpose: The aim of this study was to determine the reliability and validity of several submaximal variables that can be easily obtained by monitoring cyclists’ performances. Methods: Eighteen professional cyclists participated in this study. In a first part (n = 15) the test-retest reliability of heart rate (HR) and rating of perceived exertion (RPE) during a progressive maximal test was measured. Derived submaximal variables based on HR, RPE, and power output (PO) responses were analyzed. In a second part (n = 7) the pattern of the submaximal variables according to cyclists’ training status was analyzed. Cyclists were assessed 3 times during the season: at the beginning of the season, before the Vuelta a España, and the day after this Grand Tour. Results: Part 1: No significant differences in maximal and submaximal variables between test-retest were found. Excellent ICCs (0.81–0.98) were obtained in all variables. Part 2: The HR and RPE showed a rightward shift from early to peak season. In addition, RPE showed a left shift after the Vuelta a España. Submaximal variables based on RPE had the best relationship with both performance and changes in performance. Conclusion: The present study showed the reliability of different maximal and submaximal variables used to assess cyclists’ performances. Submaximal variables based on RPE seem to be the best to monitor changes in training status over a season.

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Monitoring Training Loads: The Past, the Present, and the Future

Carl Foster, Jose A. Rodriguez-Marroyo, and Jos J. de Koning

Training monitoring is about keeping track of what athletes accomplish in training, for the purpose of improving the interaction between coach and athlete. Over history there have been several basic schemes of training monitoring. In the earliest days training monitoring was about observing the athlete during standard workouts. However, difficulty in standardizing the conditions of training made this process unreliable. With the advent of interval training, monitoring became more systematic. However, imprecision in the measurement of heart rate (HR) evolved interval training toward index workouts, where the main monitored parameter was average time required to complete index workouts. These measures of training load focused on the external training load, what the athlete could actually do. With the advent of interest from the scientific community, the development of the concept of metabolic thresholds and the possibility of trackside measurement of HR, lactate, VO2, and power output, there was greater interest in the internal training load, allowing better titration of training loads in athletes of differing ability. These methods show much promise but often require laboratory testing for calibration and tend to produce too much information, in too slow a time frame, to be optimally useful to coaches. The advent of the TRIMP concept by Banister suggested a strategy to combine intensity and duration elements of training into a single index concept, training load. Although the original TRIMP concept was mathematically complex, the development of the session RPE and similar low-tech methods has demonstrated a way to evaluate training load, along with derived variables, in a simple, responsive way. Recently, there has been interest in using wearable sensors to provide high-resolution data of the external training load. These methods are promising, but problems relative to information overload and turnaround time to coaches remain to be solved.

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Effect of the Cooldown Type on Session Rating of Perceived Exertion

Jose A. Rodríguez-Marroyo, Beltrán González, Carl Foster, Ana Belén Carballo-Leyenda, and José G. Villa

Purpose: This study investigated the effect of cooldown modality (active vs passive) and duration (5, 10, and 15 min) on session rating of perceived exertion (sRPE). Secondarily, the possible influence of training sessions’ demand on this effect was studied. Methods: A total of 16 youth male soccer players (15.7 [0.4] y) completed 2 standardized training sessions per week across 6 weeks. During weeks 1 to 2, 3 to 4, and 5 to 6, cooldown lengths of 15, 10, and 5 minutes were studied, respectively. Using a crossover design, players were randomly assigned to 2 groups and each group performed 1 of 2 different cooldown interventions. Passive and active cooldown interventions based on static stretching and running exercises were studied. Heart rate and sRPE were recorded during all training sessions. Results: The lowest sRPE was observed when passive cooldown was performed. When the hardest training sessions were considered, a significant main effect of cooldown modality (P < .01) and duration (P < .05) and an interaction effect between these variables (P < .05) on sRPE were obtained. The lowest (P < .01) sRPE was observed during the longest cooldown (15 min). Conclusion: The findings suggest that sRPE may be sensitive to the selected cooldown modality and duration, especially following the most demanding training sessions.

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Defensive Strategy and Player Sex Impact Heart-Rate Responses During Games-Based Drills in Professional Basketball

David Suárez-Iglesias, Rubén Dehesa, Aaron T. Scanlan, José A. Rodríguez-Marroyo, and Alejandro Vaquera

Purpose: Games-based drills (GBD) are the predominant form of training stimulus prescribed to male and female basketball players. Despite being readily manipulated during GBD, the impact of defensive strategy on the sex-specific demands of GBD remains unknown. Therefore, the aim of this study was to quantify and compare the heart-rate (HR) responses experienced during 5v5 GBD using different defensive strategies (man-to-man defense vs zone defense [ZD] formations) according to player sex. Method: HR was recorded in 11 professional male and 10 professional female basketball players while performing 5v5 GBD with different defensive strategies (man-to-man defense or ZD). HR-based training load was also calculated using the summated heart-rate zones model. Results: During man-to-man defense, mean HR ( η p 2 = .02 ), relative time (in percentage) spent working at 90% to 100% maximal HR ( η p 2 = .03 ), and summated heart-rate zones ( η p 2 = .02 ) were greater (P < .05) in female players compared with males. During ZD, higher (P < .01) peak HR ( η p 2 = .07 ), mean HR ( η p 2 = .11 ), relative and absolute (in minutes) time spent working at 80% to 89% maximal HR ( η p 2 = .03 and .03, respectively) and 90% to 100% maximal HR ( η p 2 = .12 and .09, respectively), and summated heart-rate zones ( η p 2 = .19 ) were observed in female players compared with males. Conclusions: The defensive strategy employed during 5v5 full-court GBD influences HR responses and training load differently according to sex, where female players experience higher HR responses than males, especially when ZD are adopted. Basketball coaching staff can use these findings for the precise manipulation of team defenses during GBD to elicit desired cardiovascular stress on players.

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Validity, Reliability, and Sensitivity of a Volleyball Intermittent Endurance Test

Jose A. Rodríguez-Marroyo, Javier Medina-Carrillo, Juan García-López, Juan C. Morante, José G. Villa, and Carl Foster


To analyze the concurrent and construct validity of a volleyball intermittent endurance test (VIET). The VIET’s test–retest reliability and sensitivity to assess seasonal changes was also studied.


During the preseason, 71 volleyball players of different competitive levels took part in this study. All performed the VIET and a graded treadmill test with gas-exchange measurement (GXT). Thirty-one of the players performed an additional VIET to analyze the test–retest reliability. To test the VIET’s sensitivity, 28 players repeated the VIET and GXT at the end of their season.


Significant (P < .001) relationships between VIET distance and maximal oxygen uptake (r = .74) and GXT maximal speed (r = .78) were observed. There were no significant differences between the VIET performance test and retest (1542.1 ± 338.1 vs 1567.1 ± 358.2 m). Significant (P < .001) relationships and intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) were found (r = .95, ICC = .96) for VIET performance. VIET performance increased significantly (P < .001) with player performance level and was sensitive to fitness changes across the season (1458.8 ± 343.5 vs 1581.1 ± 334.0 m, P < .01).


The VIET may be considered a valid, reliable, and sensitive test to assess the aerobic endurance in volleyball players.

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The Role of the Rating-of-Perceived-Exertion Template in Pacing

Wouter Schallig, Tim Veneman, Dionne A. Noordhof, José A. Rodríguez-Marroyo, John P. Porcari, Jos J. de Koning, and Carl Foster

The rating-of-perceived-exertion (RPE) template is thought to regulate pacing and has been shown to be very robust in different circumstances. Purpose: The primary purpose was to investigate whether the RPE template can be manipulated by changing the race distance during the course of a time trial. The secondary purpose was to study how athletes cope with this manipulation, especially in terms of the RPE template. Method: Trained male subjects (N = 10) performed 3 cycling time trials: a 10-km (TT10), a 15-km (TT15), and a manipulated 15-km (TTman). During the TTman, subjects started the time trial believing that they were going to perform a 10-km time trial. However, at 7.5 km they were told that it was a 15-km time trial. Results: A significant main effect of time-trial condition on RPE scores until kilometer 7.5 was found (P = .016). Post hoc comparisons showed that the RPE values of the TT15 were lower than the RPE values of the TT10 (difference 0.60; CI95% 0.11, 1.0) and TTman (difference 0.73; CI95% 0.004, 1.5). After the 7.5 km, a transition phase occurs, in which an interaction effect is present (P = .011). After this transition phase, the RPE values of TTman and TT15 did not statistically differ (P = 1.00). Conclusions: This novel distance-endpoint manipulation demonstrates that it is possible to switch between RPE templates. A clear shift in RPE during the TTman is present between the RPE templates of the TT10 and TT15. The shift strongly supports suggestions that pacing is regulated using an RPE template.

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Olympic Genes on the Podium?

Fabian Sanchis-Gomar, Helios Pareja-Galeano, Jose A. Rodriguez-Marroyo, Jos J. de Koning, Alejandro Lucia, and Carl Foster

Despite some advances, it remains largely unknown how the millions of variations in the human genome influence athletic performance (especially in endurance events), and no single genetic test can really predict sports talent. However, there is experimental evidence from animal research that selecting for even a simple characteristic such as running ability can produce comparatively large and rapid changes in performance. That such selection has not been specifically documented in humans is more evidence of the limits of physiology-archeology than of the unlikelihood of selection for physical abilities. Here, the authors argue that top Olympians are likely genetically gifted individuals who in addition have numerous contributors to the “complex trait” of being an athletic champion that may not necessarily depend on defined genetic variations.

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How to Succeed as an Athlete: What We Know, What We Need to Know

Carl Foster, Renato Barroso, Ralph Beneke, Daniel Bok, Daniel Boullosa, Arturo Casado, Karim Chamari, Cristina Cortis, Jos de Koning, Andrea Fusco, Thomas Haugen, Alejandro Lucía, Iñigo Mujika, David Pyne, José A. Rodríguez-Marroyo, Oyvind Sandbakk, and Stephen Seiler