High-Intensity Demands of 6-a-Side Small-Sided Games and 11-a-Side Matches in Youth Soccer Players

in Pediatric Exercise Science
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Purpose: The purposes of the present study were to examine high-intensity running distance during 6-a-side small-sided games (SSGs) and 11-a-side matches (11M) in youth soccer players using speed and metabolic power approaches and the magnitude of difference between the high-intensity running distance calculated with the 2 approaches. Method: A total of 11 outfield players (age = 16.3 [0.6] y) performed SSGs with 3 pitch sizes (small SSG [SSGS], medium SSG, and large SSG [SSGL]) and 11M. A Global Positioning System (15 Hz) was employed to calculate total distance covered, distance covered at a speed ≥4.3 m·s−1 (TS), and metabolic power of ≥20 W·kg−1 (TP). Results: The total distance covered increased from SSGS through to SSGL (P < .001) and was greater during 11M and SSGL compared with other SSGs (P < .01). TS and TP increased from SSGS (TS vs TP = 98 [55] vs 547 [181] m) through to SSGL (538 [167] vs 1050 [234] m; P < .001). TS and TP during 11M (370 [122] vs 869 [233] m) was greater than SSGS (P < .001 for both) and less than SSGL (P < .05 for both). The magnitude of difference between TS and TP (as a percentage) was lower with an increase in pitch size during SSGs and was greater in SSGS (615% [404%]; P < .001), medium SSG (195% [76%]; P < .05), and smaller in SSGL (102% [33%]; P < .01) compared with 11M (145% [53%]). Conclusion: SSGs can replicate the high-intensity demands of 11M and the speed approach underestimates the high-intensity demands of SSGs and 11M compared with the metabolic power approach.

Goto is with the Faculty of Sports Science, Kyushu Kyoritsu University, Kitakyushu, Japan. King is with the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, United Kingdom.

Address author correspondence to Heita Goto at heitagoto@hotmail.com.
Pediatric Exercise Science
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