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Misuse of the term ‘load’ in sport and exercise science

Staunton, Craig A.; Abt, Grant; Weaving, Dan; Wundersitz, Daniel W.T.


Craig A. Staunton

Dan Weaving

Daniel W.T. Wundersitz


Despite the International System of Units (SI), as well as several publications guiding researchers on correct use of terminology, there continues to be widespread misuse of mechanical terms such as ‘work’ in sport and exercise science. A growing concern is the misuse of the term ‘load’. Terms such as ‘training load’ and ‘PlayerLoad’ are popular in sport and exercise science vernacular. However, a ‘load’ is a mechanical variable which, when used appropriately, describes a force and therefore should be accompanied with the SI-derived unit of the newton (N). It is tempting to accept popular terms and nomenclature as scientific. However, scientists are obliged to abide by the SI and must pay close attention to scientific constructs. This communication presents a critical reflection on the use of the term ‘load’ in sport and exercise science. We present ways in which the use of this term breaches principles of science and provide practical solutions for ongoing use in research and practice.


Staunton, C. A., Abt, G., Weaving, D., & Wundersitz, D. W. (in press). Misuse of the term ‘load’ in sport and exercise science. Journal of science and medicine in sport / Sports Medicine Australia,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 12, 2021
Online Publication Date Aug 18, 2021
Deposit Date Aug 28, 2021
Publicly Available Date Oct 27, 2022
Journal Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport
Print ISSN 1440-2440
Electronic ISSN 1878-1861
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords Exercise; Definition; Nomenclature; Terminology; SI
Public URL


Article pre-proof (1.7 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2021 Published by Elsevier Ltd on behalf of Sports Medicine Australia.<br /> Creative Commons Licence: Attribution 4.0 International License. See:

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