The aim of this research was to examine the influence of two variables, the type of marking (with or without man-marking) and the number of players per team (3, 6, or 9) on the physical and physiological demands of sided games in soccer. Eighteen amateur players were monitored with GPS and heart rate devices. The following variables were analyzed: a maximum heart rate, a mean heart rate, time spent in each intensity range, total distance covered and distance covered in different speed ranges, a player load, maximum speed reached, and a work:rest ratio. The results showed that the type of marking influenced the physical demands of players, with greater total distance, a player load and a work:rest ratio when man-marking was used in the 3 vs. 3 (737 m, 95 Arbitrary Units (AU) and 3.4 AU, respectively) and 6 vs. 6 (783 m, 95 AU and 5.3 AU, respectively) games (p<0.05). The number of players also had an effect on physiological intensity, with more time being spent at the <80%HRmax during the 9 vs. 9 and 6 vs. 6 games (more than 30%) compared with the 3 vs. 3 format (less than 15%) (p<0.05). These findings could help coaches to understand how the modification of different variables in sided games influences the physical and physiological demands of players.
This study aimed to examine the effect of exercise duration and the number of touches allowed during possession on time-motion characteristics and the physiological responses of soccer players in 6 vs. 6 small-sided games (SSGs) lasting 12 minutes. The analysis divided each game into two 6-min periods and we compared two formats: free play (SSGfp) vs. a maximum of two touches per individual possession (SSG 2T). Participants were 12 semi-professional players (age: 22.7±4.3 years; body height: 177.5+4.9 cm; body mass: 74.9±6.3 kg) and the following variables were measured by means of heart rate monitors and GPS devices: mean heart rate (HRmean), time spent in each exercise intensity zone, total distance covered, total distance covered in different speed zones, number of accelerations at different intensities, maximum speed reached, player load, and the work-to-rest ratio. The results showed that in SSGFP there was a decrease in the intensity of physical parameters during the second 6-min period (6-12 min), whereas this decrease was not observed when a maximum of two touches per individual possession was allowed. During the second period (6-12 min) of SSG2T there was an increase in HRmean and in the time spent in high exercise intensity zones, but these differences were not observed in SSGFP. The value of these findings for soccer coaches is that they illustrate how different technical, tactical or conditioning objectives could be addressed by altering the length and format of the SSG used in training.