Drops In Physical Performance During Intermittent Small-Sided And Conditioned Games In Professional Soccer Players


Clemente FM., Rabbani A., Ferreira R., Araújo JP (2020).

Journal of Human Movement 1(1): 7–14

DOI: 10.5114/hm.2020.88148

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The purpose of this study was to identify variations in external load measures between sets (3 × 4’/2’ rest) of small-sided and conditioned game formats (goalkeeper + 5 vs. 5 + goalkeeper with specific tactical demands). Overall, 10 male professional soccer players (age: 28.1 ± 3.8 years, experience: 7.9 ± 2.9 years, height: 180.3 ± 5.8 cm, weight: 76.5 ± 6.3 kg) from a team competing in the first Portuguese league and in the UEFA Europa league participated in the study.

Distance covered, high intensity running (HIR), maximal velocity (MV), high speed running (HSR), very high intensity running (VHIR), and player load (PL) were monitored by using global positioning system units. Very large decreases in HIR (–62.6, effect size [ES]: –2.04) were found from set 1 to set 3. Large decreases in distance covered (–12.8%, ES: –1.28) and MV (–19.4, ES: –1.95) were observed from the first to the third set. Large decreases in HSR (–80.2%, ES: –1.78), moderate decreases in PL (–7.6%, ES: –0.64), and large decreases in VHIR (–83.0%, ES: –1.88) were reported between the first and the third set. The results of the present study indicate a significant drop in external load performance when comparing the first and the second sets with the third set.

Practical Application

  • Coaches and fitness experts in soccer should be aware of the time constraints placed on training periods when including small-sided training games in order to maximise intensity and performance.
  • The effects of SSGs on physiological and physical demands also depend on other concurrent task conditions such as the:
    o size of the pitch (and the relative individual playing area),
    o playing rules (e.g., limitations on touches, presence or absence of goals, space limitations, type of marking),
    o coaches’ encouragement,
    o inclusion of goalkeepers (GK)
    o training regimen (e.g., continuous vs. intermittent)

About the author

Dr. Filipe Clemente

Dr. Filipe Clemente studied at Polytechnic Institute of Viana do Castelo, School of Sport and Leisure (Portugal) and specialises in performance analysis, match analysis and training load monitoring.

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