This study aimed to examine the effect of exercise duration and the number of touches allowed during possession on time-motion characteristics and the physiological responses of soccer players in 6 vs. 6 small-sided games (SSGs) lasting 12 minutes. The analysis divided each game into two 6-min periods and we compared two formats: free play (SSGfp) vs. a maximum of two touches per individual possession (SSG 2T). Participants were 12 semi-professional players (age: 22.7±4.3 years; body height: 177.5+4.9 cm; body mass: 74.9±6.3 kg) and the following variables were measured by means of heart rate monitors and GPS devices: mean heart rate (HRmean), time spent in each exercise intensity zone, total distance covered, total distance covered in different speed zones, number of accelerations at different intensities, maximum speed reached, player load, and the work-to-rest ratio. The results showed that in SSGFP there was a decrease in the intensity of physical parameters during the second 6-min period (6-12 min), whereas this decrease was not observed when a maximum of two touches per individual possession was allowed. During the second period (6-12 min) of SSG2T there was an increase in HRmean and in the time spent in high exercise intensity zones, but these differences were not observed in SSGFP. The value of these findings for soccer coaches is that they illustrate how different technical, tactical or conditioning objectives could be addressed by altering the length and format of the SSG used in training.
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”.