Purpose: Machine learning may contribute to understanding the relationship between the external load and internal load in professional soccer. Therefore, the relationship between external load indicators (ELIs) and the rating of perceived exertion (RPE) was examined using machine learning techniques on a group and individual level. Methods: Training data were collected from 38 professional soccer players over 2 seasons. The external load was measured using global positioning system technology and accelerometry. The internal load was obtained using the RPE. Predictive models were constructed using 2 machine learning techniques, artificial neural networks and least absolute shrinkage and selection operator (LASSO) models, and 1 naive baseline method. The predictions were based on a large set of ELIs. Using each technique, 1 group model involving all players and 1 individual model for each player were constructed. These models’ performance on predicting the reported RPE values for future training sessions was compared with the naive baseline’s performance. Results: Both the artificial neural network and LASSO models outperformed the baseline. In addition, the LASSO model made more accurate predictions for the RPE than did the artificial neural network model. Furthermore, decelerations were identified as important ELIs. Regardless of the applied machine learning technique, the group models resulted in equivalent or better predictions for the reported RPE values than the individual models. Conclusions: Machine learning techniques may have added value in predicting RPE for future sessions to optimize training design and evaluation. These techniques may also be used in conjunction with expert knowledge to select key ELIs for load monitoring.
Arne Jaspers, Tim Op De Beéck, Michel S. Brink, Wouter G.P. Frencken, Filip Staes, Jesse J. Davis and Werner F. Helsen
Tim Op De Beéck, Arne Jaspers, Michel S. Brink, Wouter G.P. Frencken, Filip Staes, Jesse J. Davis and Werner F. Helsen
Purpose: The influence of preceding load and future perceived wellness of professional soccer players is unexamined. This paper simultaneously evaluates the external load (EL) and internal load (IL) for different time frames in combination with presession wellness to predict future perceived wellness using machine learning techniques. Methods: Training and match data were collected from a professional soccer team. The EL was measured using global positioning system technology and accelerometry. The IL was obtained using the rating of perceived exertion multiplied by duration. Predictive models were constructed using gradient-boosted regression trees (GBRT) and one naive baseline method. The individual predictions of future wellness items (ie, fatigue, sleep quality, general muscle soreness, stress levels, and mood) were based on a set of EL and IL indicators in combination with presession wellness. The EL and IL were computed for acute and cumulative time frames. The GBRT model’s performance on predicting the reported future wellness was compared with the naive baseline’s performance by means of absolute prediction error and effect size. Results: The GBRT model outperformed the baseline for the wellness items such as fatigue, general muscle soreness, stress levels, and mood. In addition, only the combination of EL, IL, and presession perceived wellness resulted in nontrivial effects for predicting future wellness. Including the cumulative load did not improve the predictive performances. Conclusions: The findings may indicate the importance of including both acute load and presession perceived wellness in a broad monitoring approach in professional soccer.