Interval training with small-sided games (SSGs) is effective for improving physical conditioning and technical skills in football. This descriptive study investigated the effect of a high volume of SSGs on physiological and perceptual response [heart rate (HR) and rating of perceived exertion (RPE)] and technical actions in amateur adult football players.
Twelve male football players (age 22.5 ± 1.8 years, weight 72.6 ± 6.3 kg, height 1.76 ± 0.06 m) completed two indoor SSG formats (3 vs. 3 and 4 vs. 4) (twice each) composed of six sets of 4 min each, with 2 min of passive recovery. RPE and HR were measured to calculate exercise intensity. Each game was filmed to evaluate the technical actions; the recordings were analyzed using a hand notation system.
Mean HR for the two SSG formats did not differ significantly; RPE scores were higher for the 3 vs. 3 as compared to the 4 vs. 4 games (42.5 ± 3.0 vs. 35.0 ± 10.3, respectively; p < 0.05); and the number of technical actions (passes, target passes, and dribbling) decreased as the games progressed, with statistically significant differences between games 5 and 6 compared to game 1 (p < 0.05), but not in the frequency of other technical actions (shots, interceptions, and tackles).
The decrease in the number of technical actions in both formats as the games progress beyond four sets of 4 min could annul the advantage of SSGs for technical skills training. These findings may help football coaches maximize the benefit of training with SSGs.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
We’re sorry, something doesn't seem to be working properly.
Please try refreshing the page. If that doesn't work, please contact support so we can address the problem.
Hoff J, Wisløff U, Engen LC, Kemi OJ, Helgerud J (2002) Soccer specific aerobic endurance training. Br J Sports Med 36:218–221
Owen AL, del Wong P, Paul D, Dellal A (2012) Effects of a periodized small-sided game training intervention on physical performance in elite professional soccer. J Strength Cond Res 26:2748–2754
Hill-Haas SV, Dawson B, Impellizzeri FM, Coutts AJ (2011) Physiology of small-sided games training in football: a systematic review. Sports Med 41:199–220
Hill-Haas SV, Coutts AJ, Rowsell GJ, Dawson BT (2009) Generic versus small-sided game training in soccer. Int J Sports Med 30:636–642
Castellano J, Casamichana D, Dellal A (2013) Influence of game format and number of players on heart rate responses and physical demands in small-sided soccer games. J Strength Cond Res 27:1295–1303
Hill-Haas SV, Coutts AJ, Dawson BT, Rowsell GJ (2010) Time-motion characteristics and physiological responses of small-sided games in elite youth players: the influence of player number and rule changes. J Strength Cond Res 24:2149–2156
Casamichana D, Castellano J (2010) Time-motion, heart rate, perceptual and motor behaviour demands in small-sides soccer games: effects of pitch size. J Sports Sci 28:1615–1623
Aguiar MV, Botelho GM, Gonçalves BS, Sampaio JE (2013) Physiological responses and activity profiles of football small-sided games. J Strength Cond Res 27:1287–1294
Little T, Williams AG (2006) Suitability of soccer training drills for endurance training. J Strength Cond Res 20:316–319
Kelly DM, Drust B (2009) The effect of pitch dimensions on heart rate responses and technical demands of small-sided soccer games in elite players. J Sci Med Sport 12:475–479
Fanchini M, Azzalin A, Castagna C, Schena F, McCall A, Impellizzeri FM (2011) Effect of bout duration on exercise intensity and technical performance of small-sided games in soccer. J Strength Cond Res 25:453–458
Mohr M, Krustrup P, Bangsbo J (2005) Fatigue in soccer: a brief review. J Sports Sci 23:593–599
Bangsbo J, Iaia FM, Krustrup P (2008) The Yo-Yo intermittent recovery test: a useful tool for evaluation of physical performance in intermittent sports. Sports Med 38:37–51
Esposito F, Impellizzeri FM, Margonato V, Vanni R, Pizzini G, Veicsteinas A (2004) Validity of heart rate as an indicator of aerobic demand during soccer activities in amateur soccer players. Eur J Appl Physiol 93:167–172
Impellizzeri FM, Rampinini E, Coutts AJ, Sassi A, Marcora SM (2004) Use of RPE-based training load in soccer. Med Sci Sports Exerc 36:1042–1047
Osborne JW (2010) Improving your data transformations: applying the Box–Cox transformation. Pract Assess Res Eval 15(12):1–2
Rampinini E, Impellizzeri FM, Castagna C, Abt G, Chamari K, Sassi A, Marcora SM (2007) Factors influencing physiological responses to small-sided soccer games. J Sports Sci 25:659–666
Stone NM, Kilding AE (2009) Aerobic conditioning for team sport athletes. Sports Med 39:615–642
Owen AL, del Wong P, McKenna M, Dellal A (2011) Heart rate responses and technical comparison between small- vs. large-sided games in elite professional soccer. J Strength Cond Res 25:2104–2110
We wish to thank the players for their participation in the study. We also thank Dr. Carlo Morandi for his valuable support in writing the manuscript. There were no external funding sources for this study.
Conflict of interest
Marco Beato, Luciano Bertinato and Federico Schena declare they have no conflict of interest.
About this article
Cite this article
Beato, M., Bertinato, L. & Schena, F. High volume training with small-sided games affects technical demands in football: a descriptive study. Sport Sci Health 10, 219–223 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11332-014-0197-6
- Exercise training
- Physical performance