Master of Education in Human Movement, Sport, and Leisure Studies Graduate Projects


The purpose of the first part of this project was to compare and contrast heart-rate monitoring and session RPE as tools to assess internal training load, specifically in soccer players. Soccer is a physiologically demanding sport due to the many actions required of a player over the course of match. Knowledge of internal training load, or the individual physiological “load” on a player, may help coaches or trainers better understand many components of a players fitness including under-training, over-training, and overall fatigue levels. A heart-rate monitor’s ability to calculate internal training load is primarily based upon the well-established relationship shared among heart-rate and VO2. Whereas monitoring heart rate to calculate load is typically viewed as an objective measure, session RPE is a subjective measure of internal training load takes into account global intensity of a training session. This method has been demonstrated to maintain a strong reliability with internal training load calculated via heart-rate monitors and is sometimes favored due to its relative ease of use and absence of expensive equipment. To that end, it seems that each method serves as valuable tool to assess the internal training load of a player, but neither are without limitations and those should be considered carefully when deciding upon a method to be used to monitor training loads in soccer athletes. The purpose of the second portion of this project was to present a case study to design, execute and evaluate the use of heart-rate monitors as a tool for periodization in a Division I Men’s Soccer team across a competitive season. The periodization schedule was created a priori and based upon internal training load information gathered from heart-rate monitors and anchored to known periodization goals as well as coach and team-specific goals. Upon analyzing the data it was shown that, throughout the season, scheduled training loads deviated slightly from the a priori periodization schedule but, in large part, were adhered to and tended to yield the desired effect of sustained maintenance of fitness levels. In turn, this seems to have impacted the team ‘on-the-pitch’ as the team went on to have one of the most successful seasons in recent program history. Lessons learned from this case-study analysis should serve to strengthen the coaching staff’s knowledge regarding heart-rate monitoring and how to best utilize this method in creating an optimal periodization schedule. As the review of literature and case study suggest, the knowledge of internal training load can be a useful tool to a coach or trainer seeking optimize a team or player’s potential and ultimately, the decision regarding the method of acquirement and use of internal training load, should be made upon the individual necessities/desires of the coach or trainer.


Matthew Laurent

Second Reader

Adam Fullenkamp