The relationship between external training load and session rating of perceived exertion (s-RPE) training load and the impact that playing experience, playing position and 2-km time-trial performance had on s-RPE training load were explored. From 39 Australian Football players, 6.9 ± 4.6 training sessions were analysed, resulting in 270 samples. Microtechnology devices provided external training load (distance, average speed, high-speed running distance, player load (PL) and player loadslow (PLslow)). The external training load measures had moderate to very large associations (r, 95% CI) with s-RPE training load, average speed (0.45, 0.35-0.54), high-speed running distance (0.51, 0.42-0.59), PLslow (0.80, 0.75-0.84), PL (0.86, 0.83-0.89) and distance (0.88, 0.85-0.90). Differences were described using effect sizes (d ±95% CL). When controlling for external training load, the 4- to 5-year players had higher s-RPE training load than the 0- to 1- (0.44 ± 0.33) and 2- to 3-year players (0.51 ± 0.30), ruckmen had moderately higher s-RPE training load than midfielders (0.82 ± 0.58), and there was a 0.2% increase in s-RPE training load per 1 s increase in time-trial (95% CI: 0.07-0.34). Experience, position and time-trial performance impacted the relationship between external training load and s-RPE training load. This suggests that a given external training load may result in different internal responses between athletes, potentially leaving individuals at risk of overtraining or failing to elicit positive adaptation. It is therefore vital that coaches and trainers give consideration to these mediators of s-RPE training load.
Keywords: athlete monitoring; external training load; internal training load; prescribing training; team sport.