All the game situations were performed on an outdoor artificial grass pitch with normal mini-goals, and participants wore official clothing and soccer boots.
Small Sided Games
In all the experimental situations, participants were encouraged to score the highest number of goals during the game. There was no presence of a goalkeeper per side. The verbal encouragement throughout all the SSG situations was also standardised by the technical staff head coach and assistants with the help of the experimenters, to maintain a high skill level.
Players had been familiarised with the SSG with mini-goals formats and regimes during previous training sessions in the season. The SSGs were performed at the beginning of training to ensure that players were not exhausted. Each session began with the same minute period of general movement patterns, specific movement patterns with ball, specific movement patterns without ball see [ 19 ] , followed by the same soccer-specific passing game, which lasted another 10 minutes. Both teams in the SSGs were encouraged to score the highest number of goals in the time delimited.
In order to avoid stoppage time to a maximum extent in the games, several balls were located around playing areas for immediate availability. Additionally, there were two assistant coaches outside the playing area to ensure continuous play. The two assistant coaches acted as timers and referees i. Pitch size i. This technology has been previously validated, and has been proven reliable for monitoring movements and activities of different intensities of soccer players [ 22 - 24 ].
The device was fitted to the upper back of each player, using the manufacturer-designed harness. The rate of acceleration variables can be pre-set within a minimum range modification of 0. This was measured on the basis of the change in GPS speed data. The intensity of standing generated no distance measurement, so it was incorporated into walking. Due to the fact that there was not enough space in SSGs for the players to reach sprinting speed, the values recorded in this category were very low.
Hence, they were combined with the high-speed running category. The physical responses and time-motion characteristics of the players, playing according to the three different rules i. Afterwards, in order to test all the pairwise comparisons between the game formats, the magnitude-based inference method with repeated measurements was applied. Statistical analyses were performed using SPSS The thresholds for the effect size ES statistics were 0.
Mechanistic magnitude-based inferences were assessed using the smallest worthwhile difference. The smallest worthwhile difference was calculated by 0. Table 1 shows the descriptive statistics for each variable according to the game conditions T1, T2, and FT and the mean differences between conditions. Figure 2 shows the results of the pairwise comparisons and their effects magnitude-based inference method. This experimental study sought to examine the influence of the number of ball touches authorised per game one touch [T1], two touches [T2], and free touches [FT] on the physical response of professional players throughout the bouts in 4 vs 4 soccer SSGs with mini-goals.
These contradictory results may be explained by the influence of the pitch dimensions of 4 vs 4 SSGs. These tasks meant that the players increased the number of accelerations and decelerations in shorter distances with high-intensity movements [ 36 - 37 ]. Then, the players covered less distances but with greater effort [ 38 ].
The results are in accordance with the available research that identified more turnovers and missed passes and fewer 1-on-1 situations during T1 SSGs [ 37 , 38 ]. In fact, this type of SSG increases intermittent efforts and then produces higher lactate concentrations [ 18 ], improving anaerobic performance.
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On the other hand, greater distances covered at lower velocities moderate and low speed occur during T2 play. These findings have been partly confirmed by Mallo and Navarro [ 39 ], who noted an increase in distance covered by players at different velocities, in relation to the increasing number of touches during play, which was focussed on two neutral players keeping the ball.
Therefore, the T2 SSGs may involve greater distances covered at different intensities, higher RPE values and aerobic performances due to better passing effectiveness, lower game pace and more ball possession duration [ 37 ]. In particular, Rebelo et al. However, the present results are different from those reported by Dellal et al.
The current findings might help individuals involved in the physical preparation of players e. In addition, this rule modification allows one to reduce or increase the fatigue induced to elicit adaptations related to physical performance. Indeed, situations regarding mini-goals using T2 or FT could be used for recovery i. Secondly, the margins of victory i. Finally, the findings were in line with the principle of specificity that justifies the use of SSGs during training sessions [ 43 ].
Specifically, it is a regular practice in professional and semi-professional soccer to have SSGs and weekly friendly matches FMs during the training week [ 43 ]. For this reason, future studies should compare the performance variation between the physical responses during official matches, friendly matches and SSGs with mini-goals. In conclusion, this research improves the understanding of some of the physical responses affecting SSG intensity when using mini-goals. The results pointed out two important issues for coaching staff when designing and controlling for training tasks.
This fact may lead coaches to design training plans close to competitive situations during a match i. On the other hand, with the use of two touches during SSGs the players covered a greater distance at low intensity and spent more time at low and intermediate intensity. These conditions reinforce the importance of developing training tasks focused on recovery after high-intensity matches, congested fixture periods or during post-season training.
Therefore, the results highlight the importance of the ball touch constraint during SSGs with mini-goals, and provide useful information for training and task design that replicate specific physical demands of elite football players. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Journal List Biol Sport v. Biol Sport. Published online Oct Author information Article notes Copyright and License information Disclaimer.
Corresponding author. E-mail: moc. Research design The SSGs consisted of 3 trials a total of 9 repetitions of 4-min game situations , interspersed by 3 min of active recovery for a total of 36 min of playing time. Open in a separate window. Statistical analysis The physical responses and time-motion characteristics of the players, playing according to the three different rules i. Compared by the method of magnitude-based inferences with repeated measurements.
Funding and grant-awarding bodies This work was not supported by a funding source.
Disclosure statement No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors. Hoff J, Helgerud J.
Endurance and strength training for soccer players. Sports Med. Int J Sports Med. A comparison of the physiological and technical effects of high-intensity running and small-sided games in young soccer players. Int J Sports Sci Coach. A comparison of physiological responses to various intermittent and continuous small-sided games in young soccer players.
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