R. Sassi, T. Reilly and F. Impellizzeri
In the training programmes of professional soccer players, a main concern is the proper regulation of the training intensity. The trainer has to consider the stage of the season, the fitness levels of individual players, the days between competitive engagements and the overall training plan. Furthermore, a choice must be made as to whether the activity concerned will be conducted without the ball or in group drills. Small-sided games provide an alternative to intermittent running. The intensity of exercise can be monitored by means of heart rate and blood lactate responses. The purpose of this study was to compare responses to repetitive interval running, small-sided games (4 vs 4 and 8 vs 8) and drills for technical-tactical training. The repetitive running consisted of 4 6 1000-m runs with 150 s between bouts of activity. Heart rate was monitored using radio telemetry and blood samples were obtained postexercise for lactate analysis by photometric methods. The heart rate responses in Table 1 indicate the highest intensity was experienced in the 4 vs 4 condition when players averaged 91% of HRmax. A similar intensity was reached in 8 vs 8 only when pressing was employed. The lowest intensity was observed in the session that focused on technical-tactical training, with values averaging 72% HRmax. The variability of responses to the repetitive runs was 3%, mean values being 85% HRmax. Both of the 4 vs 4 and one of the 8 vs 8 conditions produced higher average heart rate responses than the interval running session. It is concluded that small-group work with the ball can present physiological training stimuli comparable with and sometimes exceeding interval running without the ball. In contrast, technical-tactical training presents a moderate challenge to the circulatory system, more compatible with maintenance programmes or recovery on days following competitive engagements.
Journal of Sports Sciences, 22(6): p 562, 2004