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Comparative Effects of Game Profile–Based Training and Small-Sided Games on Physical Performance of Elite Young Soccer Players

Dello Iacono, Antonio1; Beato, Marco2; Unnithan, Viswanath1

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: May 27, 2019 - Volume Publish Ahead of Print - Issue - p
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000003225
Original Research: PDF Only

Dello Iacono, A, Beato, M, and Unnithan, V. Comparative effects of game profile–based training and small-sided games on physical performance of elite young soccer players. J Strength Cond Res XX(X): 000–000, 2019—This study was designed to investigate and compare the effects of game profile–based training (GPBT) and small-sided game (SSG) training on physical performances of elite youth soccer players during the in-season period. Twenty young soccer players (18.6 ± 0.6) were randomly assigned to either GPBT or SSG protocols performed twice a week for 8 weeks. The GPBT consisted of 2 sets of 6–10 minutes of intermittent soccer-specific circuits. The SSG training consisted of 3–5 sets of 5 vs. 5 SSGs played on a 42 × 30-m pitch. Before and after the training program, the following physical performances were assessed: repeated sprint ability, change of direction (COD), linear sprinting on 10 m and 20 m, countermovement jump, and intermittent running (YYIRL1). Significant improvements were found in all the assessed variables after both training interventions (p < 0.05). The GPBT group improved more than the SSG group in the 10-m and 20-m sprint tests by 2.4% (g = 0.4; small effect) and 4% (g = 0.9; large effect), respectively. Conversely, the SSG group jumped 4% higher (g = 0.4; small effect) and resulted 6.7% quicker than the GPBT (g = 1.5; large effect) in completing the COD task. These results suggest both GPBT and SSGs to be effective for fitness development among elite young soccer players during the competitive season. More importantly, these 2 conditioning methodologies may be considered in terms of specificity for selectively improving or maintaining specific soccer fitness-related performances in the latter phase of the season.

1Institute of Clinical Exercise and Health Science, University of the West of Scotland, Hamilton, United Kingdom; and

2School of Science, Technology and Engineering, University of Suffolk, Ipswich, United Kingdom

Address correspondence to Dr. Antonio Dello Iacono,

Copyright © 2019 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.