Predicting ratings of perceived exertion in Australian football players: Methods for live estimation Academic Article uri icon


  • Abstract The ability of machine learning techniques to predict athlete ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) was investigated in professional Australian football players. RPE is commonly used to quantifying internal training loads and manage injury risk in team sports. Data from global positioning systems, heart-rate monitors, accelerometers and wellness questionnaires were recorded for each training session (n=3398) from 45 professional Australian football players across a full season. A variety of modelling approaches were considered to investigate the ability of objective data to predict RPE. Models were compared using nested cross validation and root mean square error (RMSE) on RPE predictions. A random forest model using player normalised running and heart rate variables provided the most accurate predictions (RMSE ± SD = 0.96 ± 0.08 au). A simplification of the model using only total distance, distance covered at speeds between 18-24 km·h−1, and the product of total distance and mean speed provided similarly accurate predictions (RMSE ± SD = 1.09 ± 0.05 au), suggesting that running distances and speeds are the strongest predictors of RPE in Australian football players. The ability of non-linear machine learning models to accurately predict athlete RPE has applications in live player monitoring and training load planning.

publication date

  • 2016