Associations between Wellness and Internal and External Load Variables in Two Intermittent Small-Sided Soccer Games

Clemente, F.M.

The purpose of this study was to test the associations between wellness and internal and external load variables during two intermittent small-sided games (SSGs). Ten male amateur soccer players (age: 19.8 ± 1.6 years; experience: 8.3 ± 2.1 years; height: 177.4 ± 3.8 cm; weight: 71.7 ± 4.2 kg) voluntarily participated. The 5×5 format was played in 3×6 min and 6×3 min regimens. Muscle soreness (DOMS), stress, fatigue, and sleep quality were rated before each session. Perceived exertion (RPE); mean heart rate (HRmean); total (TD), jogging (JD), running (RD), and sprinting (SD) distances; player’s training load (PTL); and total accelerations (TAc) were monitored during SSGs.

In the case of the 3×6’ regimen, large negative correlations between DOMS and TD (-0.68, [-0.89;-0.20]), JD (-0.66, [-0.89;-0.17]), and SD (-0.63, [-0.88;-0.12]) were found, and very large negative correlations between DOMS and PTL (-0.84, [-0.95;-0.53]) were found. Very large (-0.73, [-0.91;-0.30]) and large (-0.61, [-0.87;-0.09]) negative correlations between DOMS and HRmean and PTL, respectively, were observed during the 6×3’ regimen. Regarding the associations between load variables, during the 6×3’ regimen, RPE was very largely correlated with TD (0.77, [0.37;0.93]), JD (0.70, [0.25;0.90]), and largely correlated with TAc (0.67, [0.19;0.89]). In the 3×6’ regimen, large correlations were found between RPE and SD (0.62, [0.10;0.87]) and TAc (0.61, [0.09;0.87]). Overall, PTL was nearly perfectly correlated with TD (0.96, [0.86;0.99]) and JD (0.94, [0.81;0.98]), very largely correlated with TAc (0.87, [0.61;0.96]), and largely correlated with RD (0.72, [0.29;0.91]).

The results of this study suggest that wellness status may influence workload in SSGs; in particular, DOMS may be moderately to largely detrimental to both internal and external load variables. Moreover, it was confirmed that RPE is moderately to largely correlated to objectively measured external load variables.

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