The aim of the present study was to examine the relationship between different kinds of intensity indicators in small-sided soccer games. This descriptive correlational study included 14 semi-professional male soccer players (21.3 ± 2.3 years, 174 ± 4.0 cm, 73.4 ± 5.1 kg) from the same team. The players were monitored by means of heart rate monitors and GPS devices during 27 small-sided games of nine different formats, yielding a total of 217 recordings. After each game the Borg scale was used to give a rate of perceived exertion (RPE). The internal load indicators were the mean heart rate relative to the individual maximum (%HRmean) and the RPE, while those for the external load were the player load, total distance covered, distance covered in two intensity ranges (>18 km·h-1 and >21 km·h-1), and frequency of effort (in the same two intensity ranges). There was a significant moderate correlation (r=0.506) between the two internal load measurements (%HRmean and RPE). Although there were significant correlations of different degrees between various external load measurements, only the player load was significantly correlated with the internal load indicators (r=0.331 with %HRmean and r=0.218 with RPE). During training programes of this kind, it is necessary to consider a range of intensity indicators so as to obtain complementary information. This will enable coaches to more accurately assess the load imposed on players and therefore optimize the training process.
The Use of Match Statistics that Discriminate Between Successful and Unsuccessful Soccer Teams
Three soccer World Cups were analysed with the aim of identifying the match statistics which best discriminated between winning, drawing and losing teams. The analysis was based on 177 matches played during the three most recent World Cup tournaments: Korea/Japan 2002 (59), Germany 2006 (59) and South Africa 2010 (59). Two categories of variables were studied: 1) those related to attacking play: goals scored, total shots, shots on target, shots off target, ball possession, number of off-sides committed, fouls received and corners; and 2) those related to defence: total shots received, shots on target received, shots off target received, off-sides received, fouls committed, corners against, yellow cards and red cards. Discriminant analysis of these matches revealed the following: (a) the variables related to attacking play that best differentiated between winning, drawing and losing teams were total shots, shots on target and ball possession; and (b) the most discriminating variables related to defence were total shots received and shots on target received. These results suggest that winning, drawing and losing national teams may be discriminated from one another on the basis of variables such as ball possession and the effectiveness of their attacking play. This information may be of benefit to both coaches and players, adding to their knowledge about soccer performance indicators and helping to guide the training process.
The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of pitch shape modifications on heart rate responses and time-motion characteristics in soccer players during 5-a-side small-sided games (SSGs). Players completed four different SSG dimensions: (1) short narrow pitch (SN; 40 × 25 m), (2) short wide pitch (SW; 66 × 25 m), (3) long narrow pitch (LN; 40 × 50 m), and (4) long wide pitch (LW; 66 × 50 m). Twenty amateur soccer players (age: 21 ± 5 yr; stature: 176.8 ± 1.9 cm; body mass: 72.7 ± 3.7 kg) were monitored using a heart rate monitor and a 10 Hz GPS device. Mean maximum heart rate (%HRmax), rating of perceived exertion (RPE), peak running speed, total distance covered (TD), distance covered in four speed categories, number of moderate and high accelerations (Ac), decelerations (Dc), changes of direction (COD) and player load were recorded. Increasing the pitch length had a greater effect compared to increasing the pitch width especially on RPE (3.8, 6.3, 4.9 and 6.6 AU to SN, LN, SW and LW, respectively) and time-motion characteristics such as TD (101, 127, 108 and 131 m·min-1 to SN, LN, SW and LW, respectively), peak speed (4.8, 6.1, 5.2 and 6.2 m·s-1 to SN, LN, SW and LW, respectively), and the number of accelerations, decelerations, and changes of direction. The data demonstrates that increasing the length rather than the width of 5-a-side SSG has a greater impact on players’ responses in terms of increasing workloads.
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.
The effect of altered game formats on team performances during soccer practice can be harnessed by coaches to stimulate specific tactical behaviours. The aim of the present study was to analyse the influence of using (i) small goals [SG], (ii) goalkeepers [7G] and (iii) floaters [7GF] on the dispersion, shape and available space of teams during small-sided games (SSGs). Twenty-four male soccer players were distributed into four teams composed of five players, two goalkeepers and two floaters that performed six SSG bouts of 6 min, interspersed with 6 min of passive recovery. Offensive and defensive phases were also analysed separately in order to verify the preservation of basic principles of attacking (teams more stretched to create free space) and defending (teams more compact to tie-up space) during SSGs. The variables used to characterize the collective behaviour were: length [L], width [W], team shape [Sh], and team separateness [TS]. Results revealed that the teams showed different collective behaviours depending on SSG format and a playing phase: a) L and W were higher in attack than in defence in all SSGs; b) team shapes were more elongated in defence in all SSGs except SG; c) the space separating players from their closest opponents (TS) was shorter in 7G; and d) SG and 7GF elicited greater defensive openness due to increased team width. The results suggest that manipulating task constraints, such as goal size, presence or absence of goalkeepers and floaters can be harnessed by coaches to shape distinct team tactical behaviours in SSGs while preserving the basic principles of attacking and defending.
The purpose of this study was to describe the specific demands and structure of interrelationships of external load variables in order to generate a position-related time motion profile in elite basketball. Seventeen professional players from three different playing positions (6 guards, 4 forwards, and 7 centers) were analyzed in five friendly games. Player load per minute (PLmin) was used as an indicator of intensity to compare positions. Furthermore, high and total external variables of jumping (hJUMP and tJUMP), acceleration (hACC and tACC), deceleration (hDEC and tDEC) and change of direction (hCOD and tCOD), respectively, were used for the principal component analysis (PCA). The Kaiser criterion (eigenvalue > 1) was applied, and the Varimax rotation mode was used to extract multiple principal components. PCA showed that all positions had three or four principal components, but the configuration of each factor was different: tCOD, hCOD, hDEC and hJUMP for guards, hCOD, tCOD, tACC and hDEC for forwards, and tJUMP, hJUMP, hDEC and tACC for centers were specifically demanded in match-play. For guards and forwards, a significant correlation was found between COD variables, while for centers tCOD and PLmin had the strongest correlation. When monitoring the external load via tri-axial accelerometers in basketball match-play, each playing position showed specific physical demands. Therefore, these variables must be prioritized in load monitoring programs.