To compare the agility demands of 4 small-sided games (SSGs) and evaluate the variability in demands for elite Australian Football (AF).
Fourteen male elite Australian Football League (AFL) players (mean ± SD; 21.7 ± 3.1 y, 189.6 ± 9.0 cm, 88.7 ± 10.0 kg, 39.4 ± 57.1 games) completed 4 SSGs of 3 × 45-s bouts each with modified designs. Video notational analysis, GPS at 5 Hz, and triaxial accelerometer data expressed the external player loads within games. Three comparisons were made using a paired t test (P < .05), and magnitudes of differences were reported with effect size (ES) statistics.
Reduced area per player (increased density) produced a small increase in total agility maneuvers (SSG1, 7.2 ± 1.3; SSG2, 8.8 ± 4.1), while a large 2D player load was accumulated (P < .05, ES = 1.22). A reduction in players produced a moderate (ES = 0.60) total number of agility maneuvers (SSG 3, 11.3 ± 6.1; SSG 2, 8.3 ± 3.6); however, a greater variability was found. The implementation of a 2-handed-tag rule resulted in a somewhat trivial decline (P > .05, ES = 0.16) in agility events compared with normal AFL tackling rules (SSG 2, 8.3 ± 3.6; SSG 4, 7.8 ± 2.6).
SSG characteristics can influence agility-training demand, which can vary considerably for individuals. Coaches should carefully consider SSG design to maximize the potential to develop agility for all players.