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Alexandre Dellal, Carlos Lago-Penas, Del P. Wong, and Karim Chamari


The aim of this study was to examine the influence of the number of ball touches authorized per possession on the physical demands, technical performances and physiological responses throughout the bouts within 4 vs. 4 soccer small-sided games (SSGs).


Twenty international soccer players (27.4 ± 1.5 y, 180.6 ± 2.3 cm, 79.2 ± 4.2 kg, body fat 12.7 ± 1.2%) performed three different 4 vs. 4 SSGs (4 × 4 min) in which the number of ball touches authorized per possession was manipulated (1 touch = 1T; 2 touches = 2T; Free Play = FP). The SSGs were divided in 4 bouts (B1, B2, B3 and B4) separated by 3 min of passive recovery. The physical performances, technical activities, heart rate responses, blood lactate and RPE were analyzed.


The FP rule presented greater number of duels, induced the lowest decreases of the sprint and high-intensity performances, and affected less the technical actions (successful passes and number of ball losses) from B1 to B4 as compared with 1T and 2T forms. Moreover, the SSG played in 1T form led to reach higher solicitation of the high-intensity actions while players presented more difficulty to perform a correct technical action.


The modification of the number of ball touches authorized per possession affects the soccer player activity from the first to the last bout of SSG, indicating that the determination of this rule has to be precisely planned by the coach according to the objectives of the training.

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Mohamed S. Fessi, Fayçal Farhat, Alexandre Dellal, James J. Malone, and Wassim Moalla

Purpose: To investigate the difference between straight-line (STL) and change-of-direction (COD) intermittent-running exercises in soccer players. Methods: Seventeen male professional soccer players performed the agility T test and 6 intermittent-running exercises: 10 s at 130% of maximal aerobic speed (MAS) alternated with 10 s of rest (10-10), 15 s at 120% of MAS alternated with 15 s of rest (15-15), and 30 s at 110% of MAS alternated with 30 s of rest (30-30) both in STL and with COD. All exercises were monitored using a global positioning system. Heart rate was measured during exercises, and rating of perceived exertion (RPE) was collected postexercise. The difference (Δ) between covered distance in STL and COD exercises at a similar load was calculated, and relationships between T test and Δ distance were analyzed. Results: COD intermittent exercises showed a significantly decreased distance covered and an increase in the number of accelerations, peak heart rate, and RPE compared with STL intermittent exercises at a similar load. High relationships were observed between T-test performance and Δ distance in 10-10 (r = .72, P < .01) and 15-15 (r = .77, P < .01), whereas no significant relationships were observed between T-test performance and Δ distance in 30-30 (r = −.37, P = .2). Conclusion: Intermittent COD exercises were associated with higher acceleration, peak heart rate, and RPE than STL during 10-10 and 15-15 exercises. The ability to rapidly change direction is crucial to perform intense sport-specific running in professional soccer players.