Does the recent internal load and strain on players affect match outcome in elite Australian football?

J Sci Med Sport. 2016 Feb;19(2):182-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jsams.2015.02.005. Epub 2015 Feb 21.


Objectives: To compare recent internal training load and strain of elite Australian football players for match outcome.

Design: Case study.

Methods: Load was quantified from session rating of perceived exertion (sRPE) for individual players from one team in 141 professional Australian football matches over six seasons, then averaged for players that competed for the team each week. Internal weekly-load and weekly-strain (load×monotony) was compared to recent-load and recent-strain (four-week rolling average) as a marker of training-stress balance for each player against the match outcome. Covariates for relative position of teams in the competition and days between matches were modelled. Differences were standardised (effect size; ES) and interpreted using magnitude based inferences.

Results: Weekly-load was likely higher for match wins (ES±90% confidence limits; 0.43±0.27), and when days-break was used as a covariate (0.45±0.27) but only possibly higher with relative ladder position covaried (RLP, 0.29±0.33). There was a possibly greater positive training-stress balance for load in wins (0.31; ±0.38) with db (0.39; ±0.39) and RLP covaried (0.27; ±0.48). There were no clear differences for strain for wins and losses or with either covariate. There was a likely greater positive training-stress balance for strain in wins (0.51; ±0.41) with days-break (0.48; ±0.41) but not RLP covaried.

Conclusions: Weekly-load and a positive training-stress balance for strain were the best predictors of match success. The higher weekly-load and training-stress balance for strain highlight the conflict between maintaining the training stimulus and minimising fatigue in Australian football players between matches.

Keywords: Elite football; Internal load; Strain.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Athletic Performance / physiology*
  • Australia
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Football / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Weight-Bearing