In the previous post here, we discussed an alternative method (The Session RPE) method as an economical and effective way of monitoring fatigue within your youth athletes.
As a quick recap, this really easy method requires a few easy steps
- Record sessions duration
- Record athlete’s rate of perceived exertion (RPE) for the session.
- These are multiplied to produce the sessional RPE score.
- Use a spreadsheet to produce the weekly average and total for the individual and the squad
- Repeat for the season!
Since the previous post which introduced a very simple way of producing a weekly RPE load and average load, Jason Lear of the Youth Strength and Conditioning Group on Facebook has produced this fantastic tool which can do this leg work for you! He has also added in a component to track injuries as they occur, as well as match these against training load. A great tool I would say.
So, let’s fast forward a few months and say you’ve dilligently collected data for each member of the squad. Now what? Well there are a few ways you can use this data:
In the Acute perspective (per session):
Do you notice any trends within your training week? Are players reporting the sessions as harder/easier than you anticipated? When you have planned to challenge them did they report RPE scores of 8-10? When you planned an easy sessions did the scores show they felt it was easy? Have you adjusted your plans accordingly?
In the Chronic perspective (per week/month/training block)
If your team or selected individuals appear to be underperforming or reporting higher values over a long term period, consider what the cause is. If they report chronically low scores, are they lazy or not proactive in sessions as they should? IF they report chronically high values – is your training volume or intensity too monotonous? Have you planned hard, medium and easy sessions, or are you trying to run your athletes at 100% all the time? If there is a dense calendar of competition, have you planned in easier “recovery” days to help them recuperate, and does this show in their RPE session load?
Keep in mind that there should be planned periods where you may want to work them at a high training volume/intensity specifically (eg. pre-season) in order to adapt and become fitter. These planned periods of harder training should show up in your RPE session data. However, also closely monitor the number of injuries – are there specifics periods of training where a number of players are breaking down? Could this be due to the training load?
In the individual perspective
It’s normal to have a variety of scores reported for the same session. For example one player may have slept well and eaten well prior to training, so they were prepared for a good session, perhaps reporting RPE of 6/7. Another player may have slept terribly, eatern badly and reported a score of 9/10. Keep in mind that stress is holistic – meaning that the body reacts to stress incurred during personal issues, academic exams, lack of sleep or poor recovery. If you notice a particular individual’s scores suddenly changing or not matching the squads – it’s worthwhile have a conversation with them about wether that are any other factors that may be affecting them.
From another individual point of view, it’s wise to introduce them back into training incrementally. This should be reflected in their RPE session load. For example, a player who has recently returned from an ankle sprain may join in the warm up, or selected lower intensity components, but you may choose to keep them out of small sided games or other higher intensity components in order to prevent re-injury. Is this reflected in the RPE session load compared to other athletes? Keep in mind that if they have been injured for some time, their fitness may have suffered and they may report higher RPE scores, but their session duration may still be reduced by you to manager their return to play.
Finally, if you have athletes who also represent other clubs/teams (eg. school, region, academy), you should also ask then for session RPE data for any training/matches they do with these other organisations. Just because you weren’t the coach, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen! If one athlete was worked particularly hard at a regional squad the previous day/weekend, you may need to reduce the intensity for this particular player to avoid injury. This scenario is often common in youth athletes and many coaches miss it, leading to players accumulating overuse injuries (eg. tendinitis). Keep in mind that all training affects the organism, not just yours!
I hope you have found this post helpful! I would love to hear your feedback so please do like, comment and share as you see fit!
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