External Load Variations Between Medium- and Large-Sided Soccer Games: Ball Possession Games vs Regular Games with Small Goals

Resumen:
This study compared external load variations between 5 vs 5 and 10 vs 10 sided game formats played under two conditions: (i) a ball possession game with two floaters, and (ii) a regular game with goalkeepers and small goals. Twenty-two professional soccer players participated in this study: four central defenders, four wide defenders, nine central midfielders, three wide forwards, and three strikers. Total distance (TD), running distance (RD), sprinting distance (SD), number of sprints (NS), and player's training load (PL) were recorded by GPS units. Within format analyses revealed very likely large increases in TD (20.0%, [9.2; 31.9]; effect size (ES): 1.48, [0.71; 2.25]) and RD (130.9%, [20.2; 343.7]; ES: 1.32, [0.29; 2.35]) during the regular game when compared to the ball possession game in the 5 vs 5 format. In the 10 vs 10 format, large increases in TD (27.9%, [17.7; 39.1]; ES: 3.54, [2.34; 4.74]) and PL (27.4%, [12.6; 44.1]; ES: 2.46, [1.20; 3.72]) were observed in the regular condition when compared to the ball possession condition. Between formats analyses revealed that, in the 10 vs 10 format, when compared to the 5 vs 5 format, RD was very likely larger (123.5%, [33.7; 273.7]), as was SD (195.8%, [20.5; 626.2]). However, very likely large decreases in PL were observed in the 10 vs 10 format (-19.6%; [-29.4; -8.3]) in the ball possession condition. Unclear differences were revealed based on variations in external load variables between formats in the regular condition. Smaller formats reduce the area available for running and sprinting and, thus, may be more adequate for increasing player's training load (based on accelerometer data).

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