The effect of match-derived relative pitch area in 5-a-side games on team tactical performance in under-19 talented soccer players

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Introduction Research demonstrated that small pitch sizes in small-sided games (SSGs) result in decreased physical demands (Castellano et al., 2015) and different interpersonal distances (Frencken et al., 2013) compared to SSGs played on larger pitches. In practice, soccer trainers mainly use relatively small pitches, where the relative pitch area is smaller than in full-sized matches (i.e. 320m2 per player). Although physical performance increased in SSGs played on a match-derived relative pitch area compared to SSGs played on smaller pitches (Castellano et al., 2015), it remains unclear how teams tactically respond to such a pitch size manipulation. Therefore, the aim is to investigate the effect of match-derived relative pitch area in SSGs on team tactical performance. Method Forty-nine under-19 players from three Dutch youth academies played 5-a-side games on a small and a large pitch, with relative pitch areas of 120m2 and 320m2, respectively. Positional data (LPM-system) were recorded during the SSGs and were used to determine team tactical performance measures, such as the inter-team distance, LPW-ratio and surface area. Differences between the SSGs were statistically evaluated with an ANOVA. Results & Discussion The inter-team distance significantly increased on a large pitch compared to the small pitch (3.95±1.11 vs. 1.62±0.28m, p<.01). In addition, the surface area was significantly larger on the large pitch than on the small pitch (143.34±26.26 vs. 100.68±18.79m2, p<.01). These findings indicate an increased dispersion of the players on the large pitch. The unchanged LPW-ratio (0.96±0.16 vs. 0.94±0.13AU, p=.52) indicates that manipulation of the pitch size did not affect the shape of the team. Conclusion Team tactical performance measures were affected by a match-derived relative pitch area in SSGs. This pitch size manipulation afforded soccer players more space to explore and allowed teams to adopt a larger dispersion. Applying such pitch areas in SSGs might be a more representative playing environment for the soccer players to improve soccer skills and prepare for the full-sized match. References Castellano J, Puente A, Echeazarra I, Casamichana D. J Strength Cond Res. 2015;29(6):1683-1691 Frencken W, Plaats van der J, Visscher C, Lemmink K. J Syst Sci Complex. 2013;26:85-93
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventWorld Conference on Science and Soccer - University of Rennes 2, Rennes, France
Duration: 31-May-20172-Jun-2017
Conference number: 5th


ConferenceWorld Conference on Science and Soccer
Abbreviated titleWCSS
Internet address

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