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Multidirectional Sprints and Small-Sided Games Training Effect on Agility and Change of Direction Abilities in Youth Soccer

Chaouachi, Anis1; Chtara, Moktar1,2; Hammami, Raouf1; Chtara, Hichem1; Turki, Olfa1,2; Castagna, Carlo3

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: November 2014 - Volume 28 - Issue 11 - p 3121–3127
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000000505
Original Research

Abstract: Chaouachi, A, Chtara, M, Hammami, R, Chtara, H, Turki, O, and Castagna, C. Multidirectional sprints and small-sided games training effect on agility and change of direction abilities in youth soccer. J Strength Cond Res 28(11): 3126–3132, 2014—The aim of this study was to compare the training effects of a small-sided game (SSG) and multidirectional sprint intervention on agility and change of direction (COD) ability in young male soccer players. Thirty-six soccer players (age: 14.2 ± 0.9 years; height: 167.2 ± 5.7 cm; body mass: 54.1 ± 6.3 kg, body fat: 12.5 ± 2.2%) participated in a short-term (6 weeks) randomized parallel fully controlled training study, with pre-to-post measurements. Players were randomly assigned to 2 experimental groups: training with preplanned COD drills (CODG, n = 12) or using SSGs (SSGG, n = 12) and to a control group (CONG, n = 12). Pre- and post-training players completed a test battery involving linear sprinting (15- and 30-m sprint), COD sprinting (COD: 15 m, ball: 15 m, 10-8-8-10 m, zigzag: 20 m), reactive agility test (RAT, RAT-ball), and vertical and horizontal jumping (countermovement jump and 5-jump, respectively). A significant (p ≤ 0.05) group × time effect was detected for all variables in CODG and SSGG. Improvements in sprint, agility without ball, COD, and jumping performances, were higher in CODG than in the other groups. The SSGG improved significantly more (p ≤ 0.05) than other groups in agility tests with the ball. The CONG showed significant improvements (p ≤ 0.05) on linear sprinting over a distance longer than 10 m and in all the agility and COD tests used in this study. It is concluded that in young male soccer players, agility can be improved either using purpose-built SSG or preplanned COD sprints. However, the use of specifically designed SSG may provide superior results in match-relevant variables.

1Research Laboratory “Sport Performance Optimization,” National Center of Medicine and Sciences in Sport, Tunis, Tunisia;

2ISSEP Ksar-Saïd, Manouba University, Manouba, Tunisia; and

3Football Training and Biomechanics Lab, Italian Football Federation (FIGC), Technical Department, Florence, Italy

Address correspondence to Carlo Castagna,

Copyright © 2014 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.