The aim of this study was to determine the cardiovascular, perceived exertion and technical effects of altering pitch size and number of players in recreational soccer match-play. The further aim was to evaluate to what extent exercise intensity during various game formats corresponds to the recommended intensity level for cardiovascular fitness improvement. Ten male recreational players aged 31.7±7.6 years (mean ± SD) completed four variations of smallsided games (except for goalkeepers, 5-a-side and 7-a-side on small and large pitches) during which heart rate, perceived exertion and technical actions were evaluated. Two-way analysis of variance on repeated measures was applied to collected data. The results indicated that an average workload expressed as heart rate and percentage of heart rate reserve during 5-a-side games was higher than for 7-a-side games. The rate of perceived exertion values were moderate and similar for all formats of games. The players performed more dribbling and successful passes, but fewer unsuccessful passes during 5-a-side games. Furthermore, the number of ball possessions and unsuccessful passes was higher on a small pitch than on a large one. Consequently, the current findings suggest that, independent of pitch size, the cardiovascular demands imposed on participants increase when the game is played with fewer players. However, all formats of recreational soccer can be used as an effective activity to promote cardiovascular fitness. Finally, participants may have more chance to perform basic technical actions during 5-a-side games on small and large pitches.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.