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Relationship between subjective and external training load variables in youth soccer players.

Maughan, Patrick C.; MacFarlane, Niall G.; Swinton, Paul A.


Patrick C. Maughan

Niall G. MacFarlane


Purpose: To quantify and describe relationships between subjective and external measures of training load in professional youth soccer players. Methods: Data from differential ratings of perceived exertion and seven measures of external training load were collected from 20 professional youth soccer players over a 46-week season. Relationships were described by repeated measures correlation, principal component analysis and factor analysis with oblimin rotation. Results: Significant positive (0.44 ≤ r ≤ 0.99; p< 0.001) within-individual correlations were obtained across dRPE and all external training load measures Correlation magnitudes were found to decrease when training load variables were expressed per minute. Principal component analysis provided two components that described 83.3% of variance. The first component, which described 72.9% of variance, was heavily loaded by all measures of training load, whilst the second component which described 10.4% of the variance, appeared to have a split between objective and subjective measures of volume and intensity. Exploratory Factor Analysis identified four theoretical factors with correlations between factors ranging from 0.5 to 0.8 These factors could be theoretically described as; objective volume, subjective volume, objective running and objective high intensity measures. Removing dRPE measures from analysis altered the structure of the model, providing a three factor solution. Conclusions: Differential RPE measures are significantly correlated with a range of external training load measures and with each other. More in-depth analysis showed that dRPE measures were highly related to each other, suggesting that, in this population, they would provide practitioners with similar information. Further analysis provided characteristic groupings of variables.


MAUGHAN, P.C., MACFARLANE, N.G. and SWINTON, P.A. 2021. Relationship between subjective and external training load variables in youth soccer players. International journal of sports physiology and performance [online], 16(8), pages 1127-1133. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 21, 2020
Online Publication Date Mar 23, 2021
Publication Date Aug 31, 2021
Deposit Date Aug 21, 2020
Publicly Available Date Aug 21, 2020
Journal International journal of sports physiology and performance
Print ISSN 1555-0265
Electronic ISSN 1555-0273
Publisher Human Kinetics
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 16
Issue 8
Pages 1127-1133
Keywords Training load; Professional; Youth; Soccer players; Rating of perceived exertion; Global positioning systems (GPS); Multivariate analysis; Monitoring; Physical performance
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