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J Sports Sci. 2015;33(12):1259-66. doi: 10.1080/02640414.2015.1022571. Epub 2015 Mar 18.

Footballers' movement behaviour during 2-, 3-, 4- and 5-a-side small-sided games.

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a CreativeLab, Research Center in Sports, Health Sciences and Human Development . University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro . Vila Real , Portugal.


The aim of this study was to compare footballers' movement behaviour during 2-, 3-, 4- and 5-a-side small-sided games. Ten young professional players (age = 18.0 ± 0.67 years) participated in 3 bouts of each small-sided games for 6 min with 1 min of active rest between bouts. Positional data were collected using GPS system units and used to calculate the following variables: team centroid, distance between each player and own and opponent team centroids and distance between centroids. Approximate entropy was used to identify the time series regularity for each variable. The distance to own team centroid increased with the number of players (effect sizes from moderate to perfect). The results from the distance to the opponent's centroid exhibited a similar trend. The distance between centroids decreased from 2- to the 4-a-side, but then increased in 5-a-side. A higher number of players were associated with lower approximate entropy values, suggesting higher positional organisation in small-sided games with more players. The highest movement regularity found in 4- and 5-a-side identified these formats as more adequate to promote team-related emergent and self-organised behaviours.


GPS; approximate entropy; complex systems; dynamical systems; team behaviours

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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