Monitoring athletes’ workload


Leading by data is a word that is often used when talking about modern coaching. In the context of athlete-centred coaching, there is a growing desire to collect more information about the athlete’s feelings. Coaches want to monitor the strain felt by the athlete on an event-by-event basis and of course at team/group level. Often, data is collected on online sheets or directly on paper after training sessions. The data is fragmented and not necessarily available to everyone who needs it. With modern digital tools, you can make it easier to collect data and keep track of it.

Athlete load monitoring (session-RPE)

Session-RPE (session rating of perceived exertion; sRPE) is often used as an internal load assessment tool in sport. In this method, the athlete rates his/her own perceived exertion (on a scale of 0/1-10) multiplied by the number of minutes of exercise.  The result is a load index of the total workload of the exercise. This index can be used to assess the athlete’s load between different events, days or weeks. When planning an event, the coach can define a target state for the load and compare it with the athletes’ feelings after the event. This also provides a view of the difference between how different athletes feel.

Acute and chronic workload monitoring (ACWR)

The load index or sRPE can be used to calculate the relationship between acute and chronic load. The Acute: Chronic Workload Ratio (ACWR) is one of the models used to calculate the ratio of acute to chronic workload. Acute workload refers to the workload during the previous week and chronic workload refers to the average workload during the previous four weeks. The ratio of acute to chronic load is obtained by dividing the acute load by the chronic load (average).

Interpretation of the ACWR ratio: below 0,8 (underload), 0,8 – 1,3 (optimal load), above 1,5 (overload). However, these interpretations are indicative. There are differences between sports and athletes, and injury and training history have a major influence on load tolerance and injury risk. However, these interpretations provide guidance for the assessment of load.

Modern tools to help with monitoring

Modern, easy-to-use coaching tools make it easier to collect data from athletes. This makes the information available in one place for all those who need it. If an athlete plays for more than one team, attends morning training sessions at an academy or even a national team, the information can be gathered in one place. Through the CoachTools coaching platform, in addition to the data collection, you can get ready-to-use athlete and team specific reports with sRPE and ACWR data pre-calculated. As a coach, it’s up to you to monitor the data and react to the information.