Sports Med Open
Springer International Publishing
School of Medical and Health Sciences/ Centre for Exercise and Sport Science Research
This commentary delivers a practical perspective on the current state of subjective training load (TL) monitoring, and in particular sessional ratings of perceived exertion, for performance enhancement and injury prevention. Subjective measures may be able to reflect mental fatigue, effort, stress, and motivation. These factors appear to be important moderators of the relationship TL has with performance and injury, and they also seem to differ between open and closed skill sports. As such, mental factors may affect the interaction between TL, performance, and injury in different sports. Further, modeling these interactions may be limited due to the assumption that an independent signal can adequately account for the performance or injury outcomes. An independent signal model does not accurately reflect training environments where multiple stressors (e.g., mechanical, emotional, nutritional) impact adaptations. Common issues with using subjective TL monitoring, including a lack of differentiation between biomechanical, physiological, and cognitive load, may be overcome by considering psychometric measurement best practices, finer graded scales, and differential ratings of perceived exertion. Methods of calculating TL, including different acute and chronic time periods, may also need to be individualized to different sports and potentially different individuals within the same sport. As TL monitoring is predominately a "chronic" decision-making tool, "acute" decision-making tools, e.g., subjective wellness and autonomic nervous system measures, should be combined in a bespoke multivariate model to aid sports coaches. A call to action is presented for future research on key issues associated with TL monitoring that will have relevance for practitioners in an applied setting.
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