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J Strength Cond Res. 2013 Oct;27(10):2861-8. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e318280c98d.

Quantification of physiological, movement, and technical outputs during a novel small-sided game in young team sport athletes.

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  • 11Sports Performance Research Institute New Zealand, AUT University, Auckland, New Zealand 2Singapore Sports Council, Singapore, Singapore.


The aim of this study was to quantify the physiological responses, time-motion characteristics, and technical executions associated with a novel non-sport-specific small-sided game (SSG) in young team sport players. On 6 separate occasions, 12 young male team sport athletes (mean ± SD: age, 13.0 ± 0.3 years; height, 157.4 ± 4.9 cm; body mass, 47.0 ± 5.0 kg; and V[Combining Dot Above]O2peak, 55.1 ± 4.6 ml·kg·min) completed various "bucketball" SSG formats (i.e., 3 vs. 3, 4 vs. 4, and 6 vs. 6) twice each. Heart rate (HR) was measured during each SSG at 5-second intervals. Time-motion characteristics were measured using global positioning systems. Ratings of perceived exertion (RPEs) were recorded immediately after the SSGs using the Borg scale (RPEs, 6-20). Technical skill executions were measured using a high-speed digital video camera. Analysis revealed a tendency for the 3 vs. 3 games to elicit higher HRs (88.3 ± 4.3) than either 4 vs. 4 (85.9 ± 4.9) or 6 vs. 6 formats (85.9 ± 3.2). Total distance traveled at 13-17.9 km·h was more during 6 vs. 6 than 3 vs. 3 games (very likely substantial true difference, 97%), and total possessions and number of catches, passes, and shots were all higher in 3 vs. 3 compared with 4 vs. 4 and 6 vs. 6 games. There was no difference in RPE between the game formats. The results of this study indicate that 3 vs. 3 non-sport-specific SSGs provide higher stimulus for aerobic fitness adaptation and technical improvement than 4 vs. 4 and 6 vs. 6 formats, and their use for training young team sport athletes is recommended.

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