Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
ISSN: 1303 - 2968   
Ios-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Androit-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
©Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2020) 19, 1 - 9

Research article
Physical Demands of Ball Possession Games in Relation to the Most Demanding Passages of a Competitive Match
Andrés Martín-García1, , Julen Castellano2, Alberto Méndez Villanueva3, Antonio Gómez-Díaz1,4, Francesc Cos5,6, David Casamichana7,8
Author Information
1 FC Barcelona Sports, Barcelona, Spain
2 University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU), Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain
3 Qatar Football Association, Doha, Qatar
4 Murcia University. San Javier University of Physical Education and Sports Science, Murcia, Spain
5 Barcelona University of Physical Education and Sports Science, Barcelona, Spain
6 New York City Football Club, New York, USA
7 Atlantic European University, Santander, Spain
8 Real Sociedad Sports, San Sebastian, Spain

Andrés Martín-García
✉ FC Barcelona Sports Performance Department, Av. Onze de Setembre, s/n, 08970 Sant Joan Despí, Barcelona, Ciudad Deportiva Joan Gamper, Spain
Publish Date
Received: 03-01-2019
Accepted: 27-10-2019
Published (online): 24-02-2020
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The main aim of this study was to determine the physical demands of different small-sided ball possession games (SSBPGs) according to player field position and compare these demands in relation to the most demanding passages of play (MDP) in competitive matches. Global positioning system data were obtained from 25 football players (20.4 ± 2.1 yrs, 1.78 ± 0.66 m, 69.7 ± 6.1 kg) belonging to the reserve squad of a Spanish La Liga Club. Players were categorized according to positional groups; full back (FB), central defender (CD), midfielder (MF), wide midfielder (WMF) and forwards (FW). The variables analyzed were relativized to metres per minute (m·min-1): total distance covered (TD), TD at high speed (HSR; >19.8 km·h-1), TD at sprint (SPR; >25.2 km·h-1), the number of accelerations (ACC) and decelerations (DEC) at high intensity (> +/-3 m·s-2), the average metabolic power (AMP; W·kg-1) and the high metabolic load distance (HMLD; >25.5 W·kg-1). The MDP were analyzed using a rolling average method, where maximal values were calculated for 3 and 5 minutes to compare with SSBPGs using AMP as a criterion variable. The results were obtained from the SSBPGs relative to the MDP (expressed in %) for each player position. FB showed the greatest magnitude of overload in ACC/DEC according to the MDP in the two smaller SSBPGs formats (201-217%), whereas MF showed lower values (105-140%). The load expressed in relation to the MDP can be different depending on the format of the SSBPGs and the characteristics of playing position. These factors should be considered by the coaches when planning training.

Key words: Small-sided games, GPS, peak intensity, football

           Key Points
  • It is necessary to plan specific intervention strategies (e.g., increase the relative dimensions per player while maintaining a high number of players per team) or use complementary exercises to balance the load in relation to the demands of the game.
  • The values relative to minutes of practice showed differences between the positions, increasing when the SSBPGs were larger (7v7+3 and 8v8+3 formats).
  • The playing positions reported different demands depending on the type of ball possession game.
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