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

Purpose:

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).

Methods:

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.

Results:

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.

Conclusions:

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.

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Jad Adrian Washif, Øyvind Sandbakk, Stephen Seiler, Thomas Haugen, Abdulaziz Farooq, Ken Quarrie, Dina C. Janse van Rensburg, Isabel Krug, Evert Verhagen, Del P. Wong, Iñigo Mujika, Cristina Cortis, Monoem Haddad, Omid Ahmadian, Mahmood Al Jufaili, Ramzi A. Al-Horani, Abdulla Saeed Al-Mohannadi, Asma Aloui, Achraf Ammar, Fitim Arifi, Abdul Rashid Aziz, Mikhail Batuev, Christopher Martyn Beaven, Ralph Beneke, Arben Bici, Pallawi Bishnoi, Lone Bogwasi, Daniel Bok, Omar Boukhris, Daniel Boullosa, Nicola Bragazzi, Joao Brito, Roxana Paola Palacios Cartagena, Anis Chaouachi, Stephen S. Cheung, Hamdi Chtourou, Germina Cosma, Tadej Debevec, Matthew D. DeLang, Alexandre Dellal, Gürhan Dönmez, Tarak Driss, Juan David Peña Duque, Cristiano Eirale, Mohamed Elloumi, Carl Foster, Emerson Franchini, Andrea Fusco, Olivier Galy, Paul B. Gastin, Nicholas Gill, Olivier Girard, Cvita Gregov, Shona Halson, Omar Hammouda, Ivana Hanzlíková, Bahar Hassanmirzaei, Kim Hébert-Losier, Hussein Muñoz Helú, Tomás Herrera-Valenzuela, Florentina J. Hettinga, Louis Holtzhausen, Olivier Hue, Antonio Dello Iacono, Johanna K. Ihalainen, Carl James, Saju Joseph, Karim Kamoun, Mehdi Khaled, Karim Khalladi, Kwang Joon Kim, Lian-Yee Kok, Lewis MacMillan, Leonardo Jose Mataruna-Dos-Santos, Ryo Matsunaga, Shpresa Memishi, Grégoire P. Millet, Imen Moussa-Chamari, Danladi Ibrahim Musa, Hoang Minh Thuan Nguyen, Pantelis T. Nikolaidis, Adam Owen, Johnny Padulo, Jeffrey Cabayan Pagaduan, Nirmala Panagodage Perera, Jorge Pérez-Gómez, Lervasen Pillay, Arporn Popa, Avishkar Pudasaini, Alizera Rabbani, Tandiyo Rahayu, Mohamed Romdhani, Paul Salamh, Abu-Sufian Sarkar, Andy Schillinger, Heny Setyawati, Navina Shrestha, Fatona Suraya, Montassar Tabben, Khaled Trabelsi, Axel Urhausen, Maarit Valtonen, Johanna Weber, Rodney Whiteley, Adel Zrane, Yacine Zerguini, Piotr Zmijewski, Helmi Ben Saad, David B. Pyne, Lee Taylor, and Karim Chamari

Purpose: To investigate differences in athletes’ knowledge, beliefs, and training practices during COVID-19 lockdowns with reference to sport classification and sex. This work extends an initial descriptive evaluation focusing on athlete classification. Methods: Athletes (12,526; 66% male; 142 countries) completed an online survey (May–July 2020) assessing knowledge, beliefs, and practices toward training. Sports were classified as team sports (45%), endurance (20%), power/technical (10%), combat (9%), aquatic (6%), recreational (4%), racquet (3%), precision (2%), parasports (1%), and others (1%). Further analysis by sex was performed. Results: During lockdown, athletes practiced body-weight-based exercises routinely (67% females and 64% males), ranging from 50% (precision) to 78% (parasports). More sport-specific technical skills were performed in combat, parasports, and precision (∼50%) than other sports (∼35%). Most athletes (range: 50% [parasports] to 75% [endurance]) performed cardiorespiratory training (trivial sex differences). Compared to prelockdown, perceived training intensity was reduced by 29% to 41%, depending on sport (largest decline: ∼38% in team sports, unaffected by sex). Some athletes (range: 7%–49%) maintained their training intensity for strength, endurance, speed, plyometric, change-of-direction, and technical training. Athletes who previously trained ≥5 sessions per week reduced their volume (range: 18%–28%) during lockdown. The proportion of athletes (81%) training ≥60 min/session reduced by 31% to 43% during lockdown. Males and females had comparable moderate levels of training knowledge (56% vs 58%) and beliefs/attitudes (54% vs 56%). Conclusions: Changes in athletes’ training practices were sport-specific, with few or no sex differences. Team-based sports were generally more susceptible to changes than individual sports. Policy makers should provide athletes with specific training arrangements and educational resources to facilitate remote and/or home-based training during lockdown-type events.