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Purpose: To examine the effects of different small-sided games (SSGs) on physical and technical aspects of performance in wheelchair basketball (WB) players. Design: Observational cohort study. Methods: Fifteen highly trained WB players participated in a single 5v5 (24-s shot clock) match and three 3v3 SSGs (18-s shot clock) on a (1) full court, (2) half-court, and (3) modified-length court. During all formats, players’ activity profiles were monitored using an indoor tracking system and inertial measurement units. Physiological responses were monitored via heart rate and rating of perceived exertion. Technical performance, that is, ball handling, was monitored using video analysis. Repeated-measures analysis of variance and effect sizes (ESs) were calculated to determine the statistical significance and magnitude of any differences between game formats. Results: Players covered less distance and reached lower peak speeds during half-court (P ≤ .0005; ES ≥ very large) compared with all other formats. Greater distances were covered, and more time was spent performing moderate- and high-speed activity (P ≤ .008; ES ≥ moderate) during full court compared with all other formats. Game format had little bearing on physiological responses, and the only differences in technical performance observed were in relation to 5v5. Players spent more time in possession, took more shots, and performed more rebounds in all 3v3 formats compared with 5v5 (P ≤ .028; ES ≥ moderate). Conclusions: Court dimensions affect the activity profiles of WB players during 3v3 SSGs yet had little bearing on technical performance when time pressures (shot clocks) were constant. These findings have important implications for coaches to understand which SSG format may be most suitable for physically and technically preparing WB players.
Mason, Hutchinson, and Goosey-Tolfrey are with the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, Peter Harrison Centre for Disability Sport, Loughborough University, Loughborough, United Kingdom. van der Slikke and Berger are with the Faculty of Health, Nutrition & Sports, The Hague University of Applied Sciences, The Hague, the Netherlands.