Temporal Changes in Technical and Physical Performances During a Small-Sided Game in Elite Youth Soccer Players

Moreira, A., Saldanha Aoki, M., Carling, C. orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-7456-3493, Alan Rodrigues Lopes, R., Felipe Schultz de Arruda, A., Lima, M., Cesar Correa, U., and Bradley, P.S. (2016) Temporal Changes in Technical and Physical Performances During a Small-Sided Game in Elite Youth Soccer Players. Asian Journal of Sports Medicine, 7 (4). ISSN 2008-000X

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Official URL: http://doi.org/10.5812/asjsm.35411


Background: There have been claims that small-sided games (SSG) may generate an appropriate environment to develop youth players’ technical performance associated to game-related problem solving. However, the temporal change in technical performance parameters of youth players during SSG is still unknown..

Objectives: The aim of this study was to examine temporal changes in technical and physical performances during a small-sided game (SSG) in elite soccer players..

Methods: Sixty elite youth players (age 14.8 ± 0.2 yr; stature 177 ± 5 cm; body mass 66.2 ± 4.7 kg) completed a 5 v 5 SSG using two repetitions of 8 minutes interspersed by 3 minutes of passive recovery. To evaluate temporal changes in performance, the data were analysed across 4 minutes quarters. Physical performance parameters included the total distance covered (TDC), the frequency of sprints (>18 km•h-1), accelerations and decelerations (> 2.0 m•s-2 and - 2.0 m•s-2), metabolic power (W•kg-1), training impulse (TRIMP), TDC: TRIMP, number of impacts, and body load. Technical performance parameters included goal attempts, total number of tackles, tackles and interceptions, total number of passes, and passes effectiveness..

Results: All physical performance parameters decreased from the first to the last quarter with notable declines in TDC, metabolic power and the frequency of sprints, accelerations and decelerations (P < 0.05; moderate to very large ES: 1.08 - 3.30). However, technical performance parameters did not vary across quarters (P > 0.05; trivial ES for 1st v 4th quarters: 0.15 - 0.33)..

Conclusions: The data demonstrate that technical performance is maintained despite substantial declines in physical performance during a SSG in elite youth players. This finding may have implications for designing SSG’s for elite youth players to ensure physical, technical and tactical capabilities are optimized. Modifications in player number, pitch dimensions, rules, coach encouragement, for instance, should be included taking into account the main aim of a given session and then focused on overloading physical or technical elements..

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