Physical Demands of Ball Possession Games in Relation to the Most Demanding Passages of a Competitive Match

Martín-García A, Castellano J, Méndez Villanueva A, Gómez-Díaz A, Cos F, Casamichana D

Objective: The main aim of this study was to assess the physical demands of SSBPGs across player field positions and compare them with the most demanding passages of play (MDP) in competitive matches.

Participants: The study involved 25 football players with an average age of 20.4 ± 2.1 years, height of 1.78 ± 0.66 m, and weight of 69.7 ± 6.1 kg. These players were from the reserve squad of a Spanish La Liga Club and were categorized into positional groups: full back (FB), central defender (CD), midfielder (MF), wide midfielder (WMF), and forwards (FW).

Methods: Global positioning system (GPS) data were collected from the players during SSBPGs. The variables analyzed included total distance covered (TD), high-speed running distance (HSR; >19.8 km/h), sprint distance (SPR; >25.2 km/h), number of accelerations (ACC) and decelerations (DEC) at high intensity (> +/-3 m/s^2), average metabolic power (AMP; W/kg), and high metabolic load distance (HMLD; >25.5 W/kg). The MDP were identified using a rolling average method, and the maximal values were calculated for 3 and 5 minutes to compare with SSBPGs using AMP as a criterion variable.

Results: The study found that FB exhibited the greatest overload in ACC/DEC compared to MDP in smaller SSBPG formats (201-217%), while MF showed lower values (105-140%). The load relative to MDP varied depending on the format of SSBPGs and the characteristics of player positions.

Conclusion: Coaches should consider the format of SSBPGs and the specific characteristics of player positions when planning training sessions, as the physical demands can differ accordingly.

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