Physiological responses and time-motion characteristics of 4-a-side small-sided game in young soccer players: the influence of different team formation methods

J Strength Cond Res. 2012 Nov;26(11):3118-23. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e318244341d.


The purpose of this study was to examine the influence of different team formation methods on the physiological responses to and time-motion characteristics of 4-a-side small-sided games (SSG4) in young soccer players. Thirty-two young soccer players (age 16.2 ± 0.7 years; height 172.9 ± 6.1 cm; body mass 64.1 ± 7.7 kg) voluntarily participated in this study. Anthropometric measurements, technical tests, and maximum oxygen uptake (V[Combining Dot Above]O2max) tests were carried out on the players. The SSG4 teams were then created using 4 different methods: according to the coaches' subjective evaluation (CE), technical scores (TS), V[Combining Dot Above]O2max (AP), and V[Combining Dot Above]O2max multiplied by TSs (CG). The teams thus created played 4 bouts of SSG4 at 2-day intervals. During the SSG4, heart rate (HR) responses, distance covered, and time spent in HRmax zones were recorded. In addition, rating of perceived exertion (RPE) and blood lactate level (La) were determined at the end of the last bout of each SSG4. Percent of HRmax (%HRmax), La, and RPE responses during SSG4 were significantly higher for teams chosen according to AP and CG compared with that according to CE and TS (p < 0.05). In addition, teams chosen by AP and CG spent significantly more time in zone 4 (>90% HRmax ) and covered a greater distance in the high-intensity running zone (>18 km·h) than did teams formed according to TS. Moreover, AP teams covered significantly greater total distance than TS teams did (p < 0.05). In conclusion, to spend more time in both the high-intensity HR zone and the high-intensity running zone, the teams in SSG4 should be formed according to the players' V[Combining Dot Above]O2max values or the values calculated using both the V[Combining Dot Above]O2max and technique scores.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Exercise Test
  • Heart Rate*
  • Humans
  • Lactic Acid / blood
  • Movement
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Physical Exertion / physiology*
  • Soccer / physiology*
  • Time Factors
  • Time and Motion Studies


  • Lactic Acid