Comparison of athlete-coach perceptions of internal and external load markers for elite junior tennis training

Alistair Murphy, Rob Duffield, Aaron Kellett, Machar Reid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: To investigate the discrepancy between coach and athlete perceptions of internal load and notational analysis of external load in elite junior tennis. Methods: Fourteen elite junior tennis players and 6 international coaches were recruited. Ratings of perceived exertion (RPEs) were recorded for individual drills and whole sessions, along with a rating of mental exertion, coach rating of intended session exertion, and athlete heart rate (HR). Furthermore, total stroke count and unforced-error count were notated using video coding after each session, alongside coach and athlete estimations of shots and errors made. Finally, regression analyses explained the variance in the criterion variables of athlete and coach RPE. Results: Repeated-measures analyses of variance and interclass correlation coefficients revealed that coaches significantly (P < .01) underestimated athlete session RPE, with only moderate correlation (r = .59) demonstrated between coach and athlete. However, athlete drill RPE (P = .14; r = .71) and mental exertion (P = .44; r = .68) were comparable and substantially correlated. No significant differences in estimated stroke count were evident between athlete and coach (P = .21), athlete notational analysis (P = .06), or coach notational analysis (P = .49). Coaches estimated significantly greater unforced errors than either athletes or notational analysis (P < .01). Regression analyses found that 54.5% of variance in coach RPE was explained by intended session exertion and coach drill RPE, while drill RPE and peak HR explained 45.3% of the variance in athlete session RPE. Conclusion: Coaches misinterpreted session RPE but not drill RPE, while inaccurately monitoring error counts. Improved understanding of external- and internal-load monitoring may help coach'athlete relationships in individual sports like tennis avoid maladaptive training.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)751-756
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2014


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