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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

SMALL-SIDED GAMES: HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH FOR FITNESS IMPROVEMENT?

Small-sided games are currently used by many teams as a method for football skill and football-specific fitness improvement. There are several  benefits with this kind of training such as improvement of football skills, training with scenarios as close to the match as possible, more pleasant for the players training method etc. The disadvantages are: inadequate control of training stimulus at the individual basis, non-realistic distances between players and lines etc. To minimize the negative points, coaches can change the space, the number of players and the rules.

Is small-sided games training as beneficial as regular running training for the improvement of fitness at the elite level? There are 5-10 studies in the literature in this issue and their results suggest that small-sided games can be as effective as running training in improving football-specific training in elite players. A summary of these studies is presented below.


Table 1. Summary of studies on the effect of small-sided games on football performance.

Study
Training
Intensity
Period
Performance change

In elite players
4min small-sided games, 2 times/week
High
4 weeks pre-season+8 weeks In season
4% improvement in total distance covered during a match

25% improvement in high-intensity activity during a match

In elite players
6-13 min small-sided games, 2 times/week
High
Preseason
17% improvement in Yo-Yo test

no change in repeated sprints

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