Small-sided games in youth soccer: performance and behavior compared to the official match

Sigrid Olthof


    1694 Downloads (Pure)


    A small-sided game is a widely used training format in soccer. The purpose is to replicate (situations from) an official match. Adaptations in pitch size, number of players, and rules affect players’ physical, technical, and tactical performance in these games and the representation for the match. Therefore, this thesis aimed to determine the relation between performance in small-sided games and the official match for elite youth soccer players.

    A series of small-sided games were played utilizing a variety in number of players and two pitch sizes: a smaller pitch area, typically used in practice, and a larger pitch area, with an equivalent area per player to that of a match. Performance during small-sided games was compared with official matches for different age groups.

    A large pitch afforded players to adopt a greater dispersion resulting in greater distances between players and teams. Likewise, these distances varied more and players’ physical performance increased. In general, distances between players in these small-sided games were comparable to those during matches, i.e. 9-12 meters, regardless of the number of players per team. However, age-related differences were present in the relation between small-sided games and matches. Also, a lack of match-related pressure in small-sided games mostly affected physical and technical performance, but is less apparent in tactical behavior.

    Concluding, a similar area per player as the match afforded more space which resulted in comparable distances between players as the match. Such small-sided games better represent the demands of the official match, especially in the tactical domain.
    Originele taal-2English
    KwalificatieDoctor of Philosophy
    Toekennende instantie
    • Rijksuniversiteit Groningen
    • Lemmink, Koen, Supervisor
    • Frencken, Wouter, Co-supervisor
    Datum van toekenning9-okt.-2019
    Plaats van publicatie[Groningen]
    Gedrukte ISBN's978-94-034-1821-6
    Elektronische ISBN's978-94-034-1820-9
    StatusPublished - 2019

    Citeer dit