The influence of relative playing area and player numerical imbalance on physical and perceptual demands in soccer small-sided game formats

Guard, A. N., McMillan, K. and MacFarlane, N. G. (2022) The influence of relative playing area and player numerical imbalance on physical and perceptual demands in soccer small-sided game formats. Science and Medicine in Football, 6(2), pp. 221-227. (doi: 10.1080/24733938.2021.1939408) (PMID:35475753)

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The aim of this study was to examine physiological, mechanical and perceptual loading in small-sided games (SSG’s) on different relative playing areas. This was demonstrated by employing teams of both even and unbalanced player numbers through overload games that are not as well scrutinized in the current literature. Twelve elite youth male soccer players were monitored for heart rate and time-motion analysis through global positioning system (GPS). The results showed cardiovascular, physical, perceptual demands were higher when relative pitch area was increased. These were most evident on the medium size pitch where heart rate was 88.7%HRmax with 8 high-intensity acceleration efforts (>3m.s2), compared to 86.7%HRmax and 2 accelerations over 3m.s2 in the small pitch format. The larger relative area permitted greater high-intensity distance (47±30m, ES=1.1 and ES=1.3) and peak velocity (25.2±1.6km.h−1, ES=0.8 and ES=0.76) compared to the small pitch, as well as the distance and frequency of the most intense (>3m.s2) accelerations and decelerations (35±9 and 8±3; 13±15 and 5±3 efforts) compared to the small pitch (all p<0.01). With uneven teams, there were significantly greater markers of aerobic load in the overloaded team (84.4±4.9%HRmax vs. 80.4±4.8%HRmax). Possession formats with numerical imbalance may be prescribed in squad management scenarios targeting conditioning stimuli for certain players when improving their training status, specifically those who do not get consistent match exposure. Furthermore, this study demonstrates how load and intensity of SSG’s may be mediated through contextual design that subsequently alters game strategy and attains the desired physical intensity for target groups or individuals.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Guard, Andrew and McMillan, Mr Kenneth and MacFarlane, Professor Niall
Authors: Guard, A. N., McMillan, K., and MacFarlane, N. G.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Life Sciences
Journal Name:Science and Medicine in Football
Publisher:Taylor and Francis
ISSN (Online):2473-4446
Published Online:07 June 2021
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2021 The Authors
First Published:First published in Science and Medicine in Football 6(2): 221-227
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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