Load management in sport

Group of adult people jogging | Featured image for Transference of Skills Between Sports blog for Pivotal Motion Physiotherapy.

Load management in sport

Would you go and run a marathon if you had never run before? Didn’t think so. The same concept is relevant to sports. Coaches must ensure their athletes are incrementally increasing their load and training through effective injury management and training strategies. If load is not carefully planned and managed, athletes are at a greater risk of further injury.

How to mange load

A big misconception of load management is that athletes will have to decrease their load and train less. This is not the case. Load management is simply about having a plan and strategising simply means training weights, movements, and progressions to the best benefit of the athlete, their body, and their sport performance.

The 10% rule can be used as a guideline when determining an athletes progression of increasing training. Although every athlete is different, and depending on the severity of an injury if present, a <10% or >10% increase to weekly load may apply. For example, an athlete who is recovering from an ACL injury may currently be executing a leg press of 40kg x 8 reps. The following week, the athlete may then increase their weight to 44kg. Elite athletes may have a greater progression, however using this concept as a guide can help athletes with routine and incrementally increasing their weight.

What do do if you’re over done it

An athletes trainingBlack and white image of trio running must also be managed to incorporate sufficient rest periods as well as strategising training days. Specifically, following intense competition periods of training, it is also important to implement a de-loading program to help athletes body adapt to the decrease in intensity of their sport. This will involve a gradual decrease in their training load over a few weeks to ensure optimal muscle, ligament, and tendon recovery following the period of intense training. The athlete may perform strengthening exercises at higher volume with lower repetitions during this period. Remember, recovery is just an important as training and performance!


Good load management will bring athletes to their peak performance in a safe way. Some other tips for effective load management in sport is:

1. Individual athletes considerations: the needs of each athlete should be considered differently

2. Frequent monitoring of training and performance: strength and performance tests to record a baseline for progress

3. Interactive load management strategies: having a whiteboard at training where athletes can visually see their progress. This can increase motivation and performance.


At Pivotal Motion we can help you manage your training and provide you with advice for progression and effective load management in your sport. Call on 3352 5116 or book online.

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