Factors Influencing the Association Between Coach and Athlete Rating of Exertion: a Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Paul, D., Read, P., Farooq, A., & Jones, L. (2021)


Background: Subjective monitoring of rate of perceived exertion is common practice in many sports. Typically, the information is used to understand the training load and at times modify forthcoming sessions. Identifying the relationship between the athlete and coach’s interpretation of training would likely further benefit understanding load management. The aim of this systematic review was to evaluate the relationship between coaches’ rating of intended exertion (RIE) and/or rating of observed exertion (ROE) and athletes’ reported rating of perceived exertion (RPE).

Methods: The review was undertaken in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. We conducted a search of Medline, Google Scholar, Science Direct, SPORTDiscus, and Web of Science databases. We assessed the correlation between coach-reported RIE and/or ROE and RPE. Assessment for risk of bias was undertaken using the Quality Appraisal for Reliability Studies (QAREL) checklist. Inclusion criteria were (1) male and/or female individuals, (2) individual and/or team sport active participants, and (3) original research article published in the English language.

Results: Data from 19 articles were found to meet the eligibility criteria. A random effect meta-analysis based on 11 studies demonstrated a positive association of player vs. coach rating of RIE (r = 0.62 [95% CI 0.5 to 0.7], p < 0.001). The pooled correlation from 7 studies of player vs. coach rating on ROE was r = 0.64 95% CI (0.5 to 0.7), p < 0.001.

Conclusion: There was a moderate to high association between coach RIE and/or ROE and athlete-reported RPE and this association seems to be influenced by many factors. The suggestions we present in this review are based on imploring practitioners to consider a multi-modal approach and the implications of monitoring when using RPE.