Over the last years there has been a substantial growth in research related to specific training methods in soccer with a strong emphasis on the effects of small-sided games. The increase of research in this topic is coincident with the increase of popularity obtained by specific soccer conditioning, which involves training players to deal with soccer match situations. Given the limited time available for fitness training in soccer, the effectiveness of small-sided games as a conditioning stimulus needs to be optimized to allow players to compete at the highest level. Available studies indicate that physiological responses (e.g. heart rate, blood lactate concentration and rating of perceived exertion), tactical and technical skill requirements can be modified during small-sided games by altering factors such as the number of players, the size of the pitch, the rules of the game, and coach encouragement. However, because of the lack of consistency in small-sided games design, player fitness, age, ability, level of coach encouragement, and playing rules in each of these studies, it is difficult to make accurate conclusions on the influence of each of these factors separately.
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