3 July, 2019

SMALL-SIDED GAMES IN FOOTBALL. ARE ADAPTATIONS THE SAME FOR PROFESSIONAL PLAYERS AND AMATEURS?

Sports Performance
Team Sports
160K

Small-sided games (SSG) are very common training tasks for any team. SSGs are matches where the number of players and the playing space are reduced in order to increase footballer participation. This makes the match more intense than an 11 vs. 11 match. We know a lot about the possibilities for adaptation that these SSGs can offer, depending on their characteristics.1,2 The intensity of these exercises can be manipulated or affected by various factors, including the number of players involved, the size and shape of the playing space, the duration of the exercise and recovery period, the rules of the game, the coach’s enthusiasm and the method of scoring a point or goal. Clearly, the potential SSG adaptations depend on the specific conditions in which they are being played.

 

One of the least studied areas is the effect of SSGs in relation to the level of the players. Few studies have researched the differences in response to this type of task for footballers at lower levels.  As often occurs with other areas of study in football, our understanding is based on research carried out on samples of elite sportspeople. However, the methodology and exercises used by professional teams are soon taken on by teams in other categories. Are we sure that the effects will be the same?

 

A study published some time ago may give us clearer answers.3 The objective of this study was to analyse the relationship between the playing level (amateur vs. professional) and the physiological, physical and technical-tactical impact in three SSGs: 2 vs. 2, 3 vs. 3 and 4 vs. 4. The professional footballers belonged to a French team (n = 20) that won Ligue 1 several times and was participating in the Champions League that season. The amateurs (n = 20) played in a category equivalent to the Third Division in Spain. Table 1 shows the characteristics of the SSGs. Table 2 shows the average values and the typical deviation in each SSG after playing to one ball touch, two ball touches and free play. As can be seen, there are significant differences in almost all of the physiological responses and the physical and technical-tactical activities. Professional players are able to cover a greater distance at a higher intensity. They are more successful when passing the ball and miss significantly fewer balls. Finally, their blood lactate levels and their perceived effort are significantly lower than those of amateur players.

 

The results suggest that SSGs could be very useful in improving physical condition and technical-tactical abilities in footballers. However, it appears that SSGs demand different responses depending on the level of the players. The most important differences occur when tasks are carried out with just one ball touch. Coaches should allow at least two touches per possession of the ball for amateur players, due to their lower technical level. In any case, more research including study samples of semi-professional and amateur players is needed. Coaches in these categories should take the physical, physiological and technical-tactical responses of SSGs proposed in literature with caution, since they may not be useful for training their players or at the very least would need different adaptations. We should also keep in mind that there are very different playing levels within a single category. Research to improve intervention (Research-Action) is essential for any club.

Table 1 Characteristics of SSGs.
Table 2 Physiological Responses and Technical-Tactical and Physical Activities During a 2 vs. 2, 3 vs. 3 and 4 vs. 4 Match in Amateurs and Professionals. * Significant differences.RPE, SJ and CMJ are measured immediately after each exercise. Blood lactate levels are taken three minutes after completing each task.

 

Carlos Lago Peñas

 

REFERENCES

 

Hill-Haas, S., Dawson, B., Impellizzeri, F. M. and Coutts, A. (2012). Physiology of small sided games training in football. Sports Medicine, 41(3), 199-220.

2 Aguiar, M.; Botelho, G.; Lago, C.; Maças, V. and Sampaio, J. (2012). A review on the effects of soccer small-sided games. Journal of Human Kinetics 33, 103-113.

3 Dellal, A.; Hill-Hass, S.; Lago-Peñas, C. and Chamari, K. (2011). Small-sided games in soccer: amateur vs. professional players’ physiological responses, physical, and technical activities. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 25 (9), 2371-2381.

 

RELATED NOTES

DO FOOTBALL PLAYER’S MENTAL ABILITIES INFLUENCE THE RISK OF INJURY?

Mental abilities, although not yet fully appreciated, are already considered a relevant part of performance. But their importance could go beyond that: Do they also influence the injury risk, including recurrence, once the player returns to play?

INJURY TYPE IN HANDBALL MAY VARY BY POSITION, CATEGORY AND MATURATION OF PLAYERS

Although several studies have tried to evaluate the characteristics of the risk of injury in handball players, they have been unable to reach sufficiently reliable conclusions. A new study of all the FC Barcelona handball categories has attempted to shed more light on the subject.

HOW PHYSICAL DEMANDS ON FOOTBALL PLAYERS VARY BY THEIR POSITION

Although there are several studies on this topic, many of them have analyzed these demands by looking at just a few variables or using very broad timeframes. A new study completed by physical trainers from F.C. Barcelona has analyzed several of these details more closely.

THE GREAT UNKNOWN OF MUSCLE INJURIES: CONNECTIVE TISSUE IN THE EXTRACELLULAR MATRIX

An article published in The Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine —in which members of the club’s medical services participated— now suggests to consider the detailed structure of the area affected, and treating the extracellular matrix as an essential player in the prognosis of the injury.

WHAT IS LOAD MANAGEMENT REALLY ABOUT?

In this article, Tim Gabbett and his team provide a user-friendly guide for practitioners when describing the general purpose of load management to coaches.

TWO WEEKS ARE ENOUGH TO INCREASE MUSCLE VOLUME AND STRENGTH

For the first time, it has been demonstrated that it does not take months of training to significantly improve both muscle volume and strength; instead, two weeks of an appropriate exercise are enough.

Degrees of freedom or degrees of slavery?

The understanding of the modifying variables of the game, based on the degrees of freedom.

ECCENTRIC EXERCISES: STUDYING “VACCINES” FOR MUSCLES

Training using eccentric exercises is important to prevent possible damage. However, intensive training can also cause muscle damage, so it is critical to be vigilant in order to keep injury risk to an absolute minimum.

STABILITY OR INSTABILITY, IS THAT THE QUESTION?

The importance of building a game model in football.

THE LEVEL OF RESISTANCE AS A MODERATOR OF THE TRAINING LOAD

Cardiovascular endurance manifests as a moderator of the load result to which the athlete is exposed.

Are the players well positioned in relation to the ball?

Through the use of computer vision we can identify some shortcomings in the body orientation of players in different game situations.

DO YOU WANT TO KNOW MORE?

  • SUBSCRIBE
  • CONTACT
  • APPLY

KEEP UP TO DATE WITH OUR NEWS

Do you have any questions about Barça Universitas?

  • Startup
  • Research Center
  • Corporate

PLEASE COMPLETE THE FIELDS:

PLEASE COMPLETE THE FIELDS:

PLEASE COMPLETE THE FIELDS:

The Form has been sent successfully.

PLEASE COMPLETE THE FIELDS:

PLEASE COMPLETE THE FIELDS:

PLEASE COMPLETE THE FIELDS:

The Form has been sent successfully.

PLEASE COMPLETE THE FIELDS:

PLEASE COMPLETE THE FIELDS:

PLEASE COMPLETE THE FIELDS:

The Form has been sent successfully.