Quantification of physiological, movement and technical outputs during a novel small sided game in young team sport athletes

The aim of this study was to quantify the physiological responses, time-motion characteristics
and technical executions associated with a novel non sport-specific SSG in young team sport
players. On six separate occasions, twelve young male team sport athletes (mean ± SD: age,13.0
± 0.3 years, height, 157.4 ± 4.9 cm, body mass, 47.0 ± 5.0 kg and  VO2 peak, 55.1± 4.6 ml·kg
1·min-1) completed various ‘bucketball’ SSG formats (i.e. 3 vs. 3, 4 vs. 4 and 6 vs. 6) twice each.
Heart rate (HR) was measured during each SSG at 5 s intervals. Time-motion characteristics
were measured using global positioning systems. Ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) were
recorded immediately after the SSGs using the Borg scale (RPEs, 6 – 20). Technical skill
executions were measured using a high-speed digital video camera. Analysis revealed a tendency
for the 3 vs. 3 games to elicited higher heart rates (88.3 ± 4.3) than either 4 vs. 4 (85.9 ± 4.9) or 6
vs. 6 formats (85.9 ± 3.2). Total distance travelled at 13 – 17.9 km·hr-1 was more during 6 vs. 6
than 3 vs. 3 games (very likely substantial true difference, 97%), and total possessions and
number of catches, passes and shots were all higher in 3 vs. 3 compared with 4 vs. 4 and 6 vs. 6
games. There was no different for RPE between game formats. The results of this study indicate
that 3 vs. 3 non sport-specific SSGs provide higher stimulus for aerobic fitness adaptation and
technical improvement than 4 vs. 4 and 6 vs. 6 formats and their use for training young team
sport athletes is recommended.

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