Quantifying change of direction load using positional data from small-sided games in soccer

Brenda M. T. Merks*, Wouter G. P. Frencken, A. R. Den Otter, Michel S. Brink

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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PURPOSE: Quantifying change of direction (COD) load through positional data from small-sided games (SSG) and assess its criterion and construct validity.

METHODS: Elite male youth soccer players (n = 25, 16.8 ± 1.3 years) played three SSG (5v5, 5×4 min) with different field dimensions (small [40×30 m], medium [55×38 m], large [70×45 m]). Positional data of the players was obtained with a Local Position Measurement system. COD load (AU) was quantified based on the combination of velocity and change in heading direction. Additionally, total distance covered, running distance, acceleration count, deceleration count, and Rating of Perceived Exertion were measured. Criterion validity was assessed by correlating COD load and the load indicators. Construct validity was determined by testing the differences between the SSG field dimensions.

RESULTS: Strong correlations were determined between COD load and total distance covered (r = 0.74, p < .01) and running distance (r = 0.84, p < .01). Middle and large field size resulted in highest COD load (p < .05).

CONCLUSION: These results suggest that the COD load measure shows sufficient criterion and construct validity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)234-240
Number of pages7
JournalScience and Medicine in Football
Issue number2
Early online date14-Apr-2021
Publication statusPublished - May-2022


  • Acceleration
  • Adolescent
  • Athletic Performance
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Menopause
  • Running
  • Soccer

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