Monitoring performance in small sided games (SSG) 4 Vs 4 + 2 goalkeepers
When designing small sided games in football, we should be aware of the requirements and the stimuli that players will receive as they come to fruition. By reducing the spaces, we minimize the chances for our players to cover high speed distances. At the same time, the requirements for the number of accelerations, decelerations and changes of direction are increasing. This is because the players are forced to change their position constantly so that they find themselves in an empty space to receive the ball. Also, ball possession changes are much more often, which forces players to change their speed much faster.
We have collected data from 4 Vs 4 small sided games with two goalkeepers, which took place on a 20m x 40m (800 sqm - 100 sqm per player) pitch, with an intensity between 85-95% HR max. Data were collected using a performance monitoring system from Catapult.
The table below shows the averages of data per minute:
While monitoring training loads, only the most energy costly for the body accelerations, decelerations and changes of direction are taken account, with moderate to high intensity. The reason is that low intensity accelerations and decelerations are not particularly associated with performance indicators and there can be hundreds, even at a low or moderate intensity training session.
If you use 4 Vs 4 with 2 goalkeepers for example 3 minutes per set, then simply multiply the table numbers by the time your game is implemented (x 3) to see the average expected external load for your players.
Based on our analysis, more than 85% of the total distance covered was at low speeds. According to other researchers, when compared with Large Sided Games or match play, Small Sided Games (under certain conditions) do not simulate the high-intensity efforts and repeated sprints that the full game demands (Casamichana, Castellano, & Castagna, 2012).
In conclusion, Small Sided Games produce more technical elements, such as (passes, shoots, tackles, etc.), which benefit football players more often than medium and large pitches. (Hodgson and et al., 2014; Kelly and Drust, 2009). At the same time, the internal load (Heart Rate) simulates or even exceeds the needs of a normal match, while for the external loads we expect values that fluctuate near the table we quote.