Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Physiology of small-sided games: what's new?

Koklu et al. Comparison of the physiological responses to different small-sided games in elite young soccer players. J Strength Cond Res. 2011 25(6):1522-8.

 The purpose of this study was to compare the blood lactate (La), heart rate (HR) and percentage of maximum HR (%HRmax) responses among the small-sided games (SSGs) in elite young soccer players. Sixteen players (average age 15.7 6 0.4 years; VO2max 53.1 6 5.9 ml /kg/min) volunteered to perform the Yo-Yo intermittent recovery test and 6 bouts of soccer drills including 1-a-side, 2-a-side, 3-a-side, and 4-a-side games without a goalkeeper in random order at 2-day intervals. Significant differences were found on La, HR, and %HRmax among the bouts. The 3-a-side and 4-a-side games were significantly higher than 1-a-side and 2-a-side games on HR and %HRmax, whereas the 1-a-side game significantly resulted in higher La responses compared to other SSGs. This study demonstrated that physiological responses during the 1-a-side and 2-a-side games were different compared to 3-a-side and 4-a-side games. Therefore, it can be concluded that a decreased number of players results in increased intensity during SSGs including 6 bouts. These results suggest that coaches should pay attention on choosing the SSG type and the number of bouts to improve desired physical conditioning of elite young soccer players in soccer training.

Da Silva et al. Exercise intensity and technical demands of small-sided games in young Brazilian soccer players: effect of number of players, maturation, and reliability. J Strength Cond Res. 2011 Sep 8. [Epub ahead of print]

The aims of this study were to examine in young soccer players (a) the effect of varying the number of players on exercise intensity (EI) and technical actions during small-sided games (SSGs), (b) the reliability of EI and technical actions, and (c) the influence of the players' maturation on EI and involvements with the ball (IWBs). Sixteen male soccer players (mean ± SD; age 13.5 ± 0.7 years) completed 2 bouts of 3 vs. 3 (SSG3), 4 vs. 4 (SSG4), and 5 vs. 5 (SSG5) training. Exercise intensity was measured using heart rate and expressed as a percentage of maximal heart rate (%MHR). Technical actions were quantified from video recordings. Maturation stage was determined with the Tanner scale. Exercise intensity in SSG3 (89.8 ± 2%MHR) was higher than that in SSG5 (86.9 ± 3%MHR). The EI in the first set (86.8 ± 4%MHR) was lower than that in the second (89.1 ± 3%MHR) and in the third set (89.4 ± 3%MRH). No effects of number of players were found in IWB, passes, target passes, tackles, and headers. Significantly more crosses, dribbling, and shots on goal were observed during SSG3 compared to during SSG4 or SSG5. The level of maturation was not correlated with either EI or IWB. These results extend previous findings with adult players suggesting that SSGs can provide an adequate training stimulus for young players and are feasible for groups with heterogeneous maturation levels.

Dellal et al. Effect of the number of ball contacts within bouts of 4 vs. 4 small-sided soccer games. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2011, 6(3):322-33.


The aim of this study was to examine the influence of the number of ball touches authorized per possession on the physical demands, technical performances and physiological responses throughout the bouts within 4 vs. 4 soccer small-sided games (SSGs). Twenty international soccer players (27.4 ± 1.5 y) performed three different 4 vs. 4 SSGs (4 × 4 min) in which the number of ball touches authorized per possession was manipulated (1 touch = 1T; 2 touches = 2T; Free Play = FP). The SSGs were divided in 4 bouts (B1, B2, B3 and B4) separated by 3 min of passive recovery. The physical performances, technical activities, heart rate responses, blood lactate and RPE were analyzed.
The FP rule presented greater number of duels, induced the lowest decreases of the sprint and high-intensity performances, and affected less the technical actions (successful passes and number of ball losses) from B1 to B4 as compared with 1T and 2T forms. Moreover, the SSG played in 1T form led to reach higher solicitation of the high-intensity actions while players presented more difficulty to perform a correct technical action.
In conclusion, the modification of the number of ball touches authorized per possession affects the soccer player activity from the first to the last bout of SSG, indicating that the determination of this rule has to be precisely planned by the coach according to the objectives of the training.

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