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Small-Sided and Conditioned Games in Soccer Training PDF

Small-Sided and Conditioned Games in Soccer Training PDF

The specificity of the training requires that the soccer tasks improve all performance indicators associated with the game.

For that reason, both technical and tactical indicators must be integrated in tasks that are typically used to develop physiological and physical variables.

Therefore, small-sided and conditioned games (SSCG) have been recommended as the specific tasks that are required to apply in soccer training.

Based on that, this chapter aims to provide relevant information that justifies the use of these smaller and adjusted versions of the formal game in the context of the training.

Should We Call Small-Sided Games (SSG) or Small-Sided and Conditioned Games (SSCG)?

Small-sided games (SSG) are typically described as smaller versions of the formal game (Hill-Haas et al. 2011).

These games have been very popular in the last decade (Halouani et al. 2014; Owen et al. 2004) and are mostly used to optimize the time of training and the physiological/physical capabilities by following the main principle of the training methodology: the specificity (Clemente et al. 2014a).

SSGs are commonly smaller versions of the game that adjust the number of players (format) and the size of the field (Reilly and White 2004).

These adjustments make possible to increase the individual participation of the players in the game and also increases the acute physiological responses (Castellano et al. 2013; Dellal et al. 2012).

The first studies in SSGs were mainly focused on the acute physiological effects promoted by changing the format and the size of the field (Aroso et al. 2004; Katis and Kellis 2009; Owen et al. 2004).

Nevertheless, coaches often change some rules of play and even the structure of the game during training sessions.

These significant adjustments use some task conditions to augment the perception of players for specific topics, mostly tactical issues (Clemente et al. 2014b).

Based on that, these games are no more only smaller versions of the game but new versions of the game, thus the concept small-sided game may not characterize the full concept of these variations.

Trying to provide a new understanding of the adjusted versions of the game, the concept of small-sided and conditioned games (SSCG) have been recently used (Clemente et al. 2014c; Davids et al. 2013).

The concept of SCCG is more in-depth than the SSG.

The typical smaller versions of the game (SSGs) are often used for fitness development and used as an alternative to the traditional running-based activities (Dellal et al. 2008; Hill-Haas et al. 2009).

The main focus is to provide an extra motivation to players to run in high intensities.

In other hand, the SCCGs can be used to help learners or expert players to gain more experience in picking up specifying information for continuously regulating interpersonal interactions with teammates and opponents during the match (Davids et al. 2013).

These conditioned games can be developed to augment the perception of the players for specific tactical topics and also to develop fitness and conditioning (Clemente et al. 2014a, b, c). For that reason, the tactical complexity of SSCGs can be more rich and fruitful than regular SSGs. Nevertheless, in our perspective both concepts can be integrated as one-single concept: small-sided and conditioned games (SSCG).

For that reason, in this book the concept of SSCG can be associated with regular smaller versions or with more complex and adjusted versions of the game.

The main focus of our book is the application of SSCGs on soccer training. Nevertheless, these conditioned games are often used in other team sports.

In fact, the pertinence of these games for coaches has been researched (Clemente et al. 2015; Leite et al. 2009; Serrano et al. 2013; Siokos 2011).

In the case of basketball it was asked to 185 coaches which kind of tasks (SSCGs, offensive superiority games, defensive superiority games, formal game, offense and defense) must be recommended for specific stage of expertise (initiation, orientation, specialization, and high performance) (Leite et al. 2009).

The results revealed that SSCGs, formal game, and offense are important tasks to use in any stage of expertise, thus suggesting the great pertinence of the conditioned games for the training.

In other hand, in futsal (indoor soccer) a similar study revealed that coaches frequently used more SSCGs in the context of elite players, progressively increasing from the novice stages (Serrano et al. 2013).

Nevertheless, the use of SSCGs depends from the coaches’ level and from their background.

The adjusted versions of the game require that coaches really know the game and the didactics to modify a particular variable that augment the perception of players for the specific tactical topic.

A study conducted in Australia disclosures that coaches are not sufficiently qualified to coach by using SSCGs (Siokos 2011).

In this study it was revealed that coaches that worked in under-6 and under-8 opted for too much free-play style, without a technical or tactical orientation/topic.

For that reason, it was suggested that coaches need to have a conceptual understanding of how to best utilize SSCGs in a supportive and inclusive coaching environment (Siokos 2011).

Nevertheless, in expert coaches it was verified their better capabilities to correctly apply SSCGs in the context of soccer training (Clemente et al. 2015).

In a study that was asked to an expert coach to develop SSCGs to match with specific heart rate intensities, it was possible to verify that the application of the designed tasks resulted in moderate-to-strength correlations with the heart rate responses expected by the coach (Clemente et al. 2015).

Some elite coaches have also been emphasizing the importance of using drill-based tasks that emulate the dynamic of the game.

One of the main coaches that advocate for the use of SSCGs as the main tasks to develop his teams is José Mourinho.

During a long interview about their training methodologies, Rui Faria (member of the Mourinho’s staff) said (Oliveira et al. 2006): The ultimate goal is to play.

For that reason, sports training only can mean one thing: doing at playing.

If the goal is to improve the quality of the game and the organization, these parameters only can be achieved by using training situations where such organization can be developed.

Following the concept of an integrative approach that can be reached by using SSCGs, Mourinho also said (Figueroa and Mourão 2009): The beauty of this type of training [drill-based tasks] it is the possibility to develop at the same time many things.

It is hard to define the goal of this task [a specific SSCGs that Mourinho applied] because he is very rich.

SSCGs are adjusted versions of the game that improve the possibility to learn or to develop a tactical topic and at the same time may also provide the opportunity to develop the fitness (Halouani et al. 2014).

Their opportunities are evident in elite training and also in recreational mode and for that reason it is important to highlight the main benefits of these games for the soccer training (Krustrup et al. 2010).

The justifications to adhere by these tasks can be briefly identified in the following section.

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