Quantification of Training and Competition Load Across a Season in an Elite Australian Football Club

Ritchie, D., Hopkins, W.G., Buchheit, M., Cordy, J., Bartlett, J.D.

Load monitoring in Australian Football (AF) has been widely adopted, yet team sport periodization strategies are relatively unknown. Here we have aimed to quantify training and competition load across a season in an elite AF team, using rating of perceived exertion (RPE) and GPS tracking.

Weekly totals for RPE and GPS loads (including accelerometer data; Playerload) were obtained for 44 players across a full season for each training modality and for competition. General linear mixed models compared mean weekly load between 3x pre-season and 4x in-season blocks. Effects were assessed with inferences about magnitudes standardized with between-player SD.

Total RPE load was most likely greater during pre-season, where the majority of load was obtained via skills and conditioning. There was a large reduction in RPE load in the last pre-season block. During in-season, half the total load came from games and the remaining half from training, predominantly skills and upper-body weights. Total distance, high-intensity running, and Playerload showed large to very large reductions from pre-season to in-season, whereas changes in mean speed were trivial across all blocks. All these effects were clear at the 99% level.

These data provide useful information about targeted periods of loading and unloading across different stages of a season. Our study also provides a framework for further investigation of training periodization in AF teams.

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