The Training Periodization of Professional Australian Football Players During an Entire AFL Season

Moreira, A., Bilsborough, J.C., Sullivan, C.J., Ciancosi, M., Aoki, M.S., Coutts, A.J.

Purpose:
The aim of this study was to examine the training periodization of an elite Australian Football team during different phases of the season.

Methods:
Training load data was collected during 22 weeks of preseason and 23 weeks of in-season training. Training load was measured using the session rating of perceived exertion (Session-RPE) for all training sessions and matches from 44 professional Australian Football players from the same team. The training intensity was divided into three zones based on session-RPE (low, ≤ 4; moderate, above 4 AU and below 7 AU; and high > 7 AU). The training load and intensity were analyzed according to the type of training session completed.

Results:
Higher training load and session duration were undertaken for all types of training sessions during the preseason compared to in-season (p < 0.05), with the exception of “other” training (i.e., re/prehabilitation training, cross-training, and recovery activities). Training load and intensity were higher during the preseason, with the exception of games where greater load and intensity were observed during the in-season. The overall distribution of training intensity was similar between phases with the majority of training performed at moderate or high-intensity. Conclusions: The present findings may allow coaches and scientists to better understand the characteristics of Australian Football periodization which in turn may aid in developing optimal training programs. The results also indicate that a polarized training intensity distribution that has been reported in elite endurance athletes does not occur in professional Australian Football.

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