The effect of unbalancing team size on the physical and technical demands of small-sided games using elite reserve team soccer players

Seeley, Shane (2021) The effect of unbalancing team size on the physical and technical demands of small-sided games using elite reserve team soccer players. MSc(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

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At professional soccer clubs, players within the same club often require a different training stimulus on a given day based on different preceding training/match exposure and different responses to the same training stimulus. Despite large amounts of research into small-sided games (SSGs), there has be no previous research investigating whether unbalancing team size in SSGs results in differential physical and technical demands between teams. The aim of this study, therefore, is to investigate the physical and technical demands of different team sizes within unbalanced SSGs. 20 elite male soccer players (age: 19 ± 1 yr; height: 179.1 ± 5.6 cm; body mass: 71.4 ± 12.4 kg) from the reserve team of a Scottish Premier League club took part in the study during the in-season phase of the 2019/2020 season. Physical demands were measured using GPSports EVO 10-Hz GPS units along with polar H1 heart rate sensors (5 kHz). SSGs were recorded using a GoPro HERO7 4K video camera and technical demands (and possession) were recorded retrospectively by analysing the footage using Nacsport Scout PLUS video analysis software. The game formats used were 5 vs 5 (control group), 6 vs 4 and 7 vs 3, plus the goal keepers. There was 6 testing days throughout the season with 2 testing days per format (12 games total). Game format order was randomised every 3 testing days. SSGs were performed in a 2 x 4 minute fashion with 90 seconds rest between with only one format (e.g. 6 vs 4) measured per testing day. In addition to the above study protocol, 2 seasons of second day recovery data from the first team was compiled to put any “lower-intensity” data into context of the clubs periodisation strategy. The results show no significant differences between any individual physical or technical variables of the smaller, disadvantaged teams and the control. In contrast, the larger teams had significantly lower physical demands. Compared with the control group, the team of 7 had significantly lower mean total distance (284 vs 407 m), heart rate (73 vs 85 %HRmax), maximum velocity (18 vs 21 km.h-1), high-intensity running distance (0.1 vs 6.3 m) and decelerations (0.7 vs 1.6) per game. The results of the team of 7 showed great compatibility with the second day recovery data. The team of 3 and 4 had significantly lower possession compared with their opposition team of 7 and 6 respectively (35-37 vs 63-65 %). As a team, the team of 7 took significantly more shots than the control group (12 vs 7). The significantly lower demands of the advantaged teams and the control combined with the lack of differences between the disadvantaged teams and the control suggest that different periodisation targets can be hit within the same SSG. This means that recovery groups can be combined with regular training groups. This can lead to increased team cohesion, training enjoyment, and technical/technical development. It could also help younger athletes receive an optimal physical stimulus (in relation to the next match) when training with older teams for one-off sessions, thus allowing them to perform more matches throughout the season. Finally, the technical and tactical differences can be used to develop these skills e.g. how do 4 defenders deal with 6 attacking players and also reduce overtraining in select players.

Item Type: Thesis (MSc(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Subjects: Q Science > QP Physiology
Colleges/Schools: College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Life Sciences
Supervisor's Name: Scobie, Mr. Nairn and MacFarlane, Professor Niall
Date of Award: 2021
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2021-82445
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 21 Sep 2021 14:08
Last Modified: 21 Sep 2021 14:08
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.82445

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