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Access Type

WSU Access

Date of Award

January 2022

Degree Type


Degree Name



Health Education

First Advisor

Tamara Hew-Butler



MONITROING TRAINING LOAD AND RECOVERY OF NCAA COLLEGE FOOTBALL ATHLETESby VALERIE GEORGIA SMITH March 2022 Advisor: Dr. Tamara Hew-Butler Major: Exercise and Sport Science Degree: Doctor of Philosophy Purpose The purpose of this dissertation was to first (study 1) evaluate relationships between objective (heart rate/HR) versus subjective (ratings of perceived exertion/RPE) ratings of TL in collegiate American football athletes, and their coaches, during pre-season camp. Second was to (study 2) was to evaluate both internal workload and recovery using heart rate (HR) metrics of American football players over a 10-week in-season. Methods Study 1: twenty-four NCAA Division II football athletes (first year, n = 6; returner, n = 18) and two coaches (football/FB, n = 1; strength and conditioning coach/S&CC, n = 1) participated in this study. Athletes wore pre-assigned chest strap HR monitors during the first six day of pre-season football camp. Objective TL was assessed using training impulse (TRIMP: average exercise HR x duration of practice). Objective TL was assessed in both athletes (perceived) and coaches (observed) using a session-RPE (sRPE; 0-10 rating scale;10=maximum effort). Where study 2 included N = 28 football athletes that were subdivide by three player positional groups: BIG (lineman; n=20), COMBO (quarterbacks, linebackers, and tight ends; n=3), and SKILL (receivers and running backs; n=5) players. HR data were collected using chest-strap HR monitors (Firstbeat™) worn during the first two sport practices of the week (Tuesday and Wednesdays), over a 10-week in-season. Internal load was assessed using training impulse (TRIMP) while recovery was measured, pre-practice, using heart rate variability (HRV) scores. Results Study 1 results found significant relationships were noted between TRIMP versus sRPE for the athletes (r=.62;p=0.001), FB coach (r=0.68;p=0.01) and S&CC (r=0.49;p=0.01). When subdivided into first year and returner groups, relationships were stronger between TRIMP versus sRPE with first year athletes (athlete r=.68;p=0.001; FB coach r=.79;p=0.001; S&CC r=.64:p=0.001) than for returning athletes (athlete r=.60;p=0.001; FB coach r=.70;p=0.001; S&CC r=.40:p=0.001). Study 2, data did not met normality assumptions based upon Shapiro Wilks tests (p < .05) for both TRIMP and HRV variables. The Kruskal-Wallis non-parametric test was used to compare the overall differences between positional groups. For internal load, TRIMP was statistically different between groups, H(2) = 23.25, p = 0.001. TRIMP values for BIG, COMBO, and SKILL were: 135.01  61.03, 123  50.77, and 101  53.09 (all in arbitrary units/au, respectively) and post-hoc pairwise comparisons with adjusted p-values revealed that only the BIGs TRIMP score was significantly greater than SKILL group score (p =0.001). Recovery, was also statistically different between groups, HRV H(2) = 30.62, p = 0.001 and post-hoc pairwise comparisons showed significant differences between BIG (53.43  25.23) and SKILL (72.58  30.51) position groups (p = 0.001). Conclusion In conclusion, study 1 suggest that subjective athlete perception and coach observation of TL are in low-moderate agreement, but are not interchangeable measures, during long-duration pre-season football camp. Study 2 results suggest that BIG position group players experience significantly greater internal loads, compared with SKILL or COMBO player positional groups. Both strength and conditioning and football coaches should be aware of such load and recovery differences when planning training sessions.

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