Rampinini E 1, Marcora SM2, Castagna C3, Abt G4, Chamari K5, Sassi A1,Impellizzeri FM1

1, Human Performance Lab, S.S. MAPEI, Castellanza, Varese, Italy;2, School of Sport, Health, and Exercise Sciences, University of Wales-Bangor, UK; 3, School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy; 4, St Martin’s College, Lancaster, UK;5, Unité de Recherche ‘’Evaluation, Sport, Santé’’ National Centre of Medicine and Science in Sports, El Menzah, Tunisia

Introduction: During soccer training using small-sided games, it is common to change the number of players on a side, and the size of the pitch, in order to change the coaching focus. These small-sided games are one of the most common exercise modes used by coaches for soccer training. Several variables have been suggested to influence small-sided games intensity including the number of players involved, field dimension, rules and coach encouragement (Bangsbo, 1998; Balsom, 1999; Hoff et al., 2002). However, despite the growing interest in this specific training mode, no studies have investigated the effects of these variables on small-sided games exercise intensity. Therefore, the aim of this study was to examine the effects of number of players, field dimension and coach encouragement, on small sided games intensity. Methods: Data were collected on twenty-five amateur soccer players. Heart rate, Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE using CR10 scale) and blood lactate ([La-]) were measured in 3-, 4-, 5-, and 6-a-side games (3 x 4 min with 3 min rest each training session) during a whole competitive season. Each specific aerobic exercise was completed by players in three different field dimensions (small, medium and large), with and without coach encouragement (a total of 24 different small-sided games). Results: Significant main effects were found for the factors ‘number of players’, ‘field dimension’, and ‘coach encouragement’(P<0.05), while no interactions were found for any of the investigated variables (P>0.15). In conclusion, this study demonstrates that decreasing the number of players, increasing the size of the pitch and having the coach encourage the players all increase the exercise intensity. By using different combinations of player number, pitch size and coach encouragement, coaches can modulate exercise intensity within the high intensity zone and, by doing so, control the aerobic training stimulus. However, individual monitoring of intensity during small-sided games would be better to ensure that each player receives the prescribed training stimulus.

10th Annual Congress of the European College of Sport Science (ECSS).

Belgrade, Serbia, July 13-16, 2005

Book of Abstract Belgrade, 10-0193