Int J Sports Med 2021; 42(04): 300-306
DOI: 10.1055/a-1268-8791

More than a Metric: How Training Load is Used in Elite Sport for Athlete Management

1   Department for Health , University of Bath, Bath,
2   Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre, Faculty of Kinesiology, University of Calgary, Calgary
Jo Clubb
3   Sports Performance, Buffalo Bills, Buffalo
Lorena Torres-Ronda
4   Performance, Philadelphia 76ers, Philadelphia
Daniel Howells
5   Sports Medicine and Performance, Houston Astros, Houston
Edward Leng
6   Football Medicine and Science Department, Manchester United FC, Manchester
7   Kinesiology and Physical Education, University of Toronto, Toronto
Sean Carmody
8   Medical Department, Queens Park Rangers FC, London, UK
Michael Posthumus
9   Department of Human Biology, University of Cape Town Division of Exercise Science and Sports Medicine, Cape Town
10   Sports Science Institute of South Africa, Cape Town
11   Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center, Department of Sports Medicine, Norwegian School of Sports Sciences, Oslo
Johann Windt
12   Performance, Vancouver Whitecaps FC, Vancouver
13   Department of Kinesiology, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver
› Author Affiliations


Training load monitoring is a core aspect of modern-day sport science practice. Collecting, cleaning, analysing, interpreting, and disseminating load data is usually undertaken with a view to improve player performance and/or manage injury risk. To target these outcomes, practitioners attempt to optimise load at different stages throughout the training process, like adjusting individual sessions, planning day-to-day, periodising the season, and managing athletes with a long-term view. With greater investment in training load monitoring comes greater expectations, as stakeholders count on practitioners to transform data into informed, meaningful decisions. In this editorial we highlight how training load monitoring has many potential applications and cannot be simply reduced to one metric and/or calculation. With experience across a variety of sporting backgrounds, this editorial details the challenges and contextual factors that must be considered when interpreting such data. It further demonstrates the need for those working with athletes to develop strong communication channels with all stakeholders in the decision-making process. Importantly, this editorial highlights the complexity associated with using training load for managing injury risk and explores the potential for framing training load with a performance and training progression mindset.

Publication History

Received: 27 June 2020

Accepted: 10 September 2020

Article published online:
19 October 2020

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