Positional Differences in GPS Outputs and Perceived Exertion During Soccer Training Games and Competition

Abbott, W., Brickley, G., Smeeton, N.J.

Soccer training games are popular modalities, allowing technical, tactical, and physical aspects to be trained simultaneously. Small (SSGs), medium (MSGs), and large training games (LSGs) elicit differing physical demands. However, no research has investigated the physical and perceived demands of training games upon soccer playing positions relative to competitive demands. Additionally, previous research has referenced average competitive intensities, ignoring peak demands of competition.

The current aim was to investigate the effect of training game formats upon average and peak physical outputs produced by soccer playing positions. Physical and perceptual data from twenty-two competitive matches and thirty-nine training game sessions were collected for forty-six U23 professional players using 10-Hz GPS and 100-Hz accelerometer devices (MinimaxX version 4.0; Catapult Innovations, Melbourne, Australia).

Data analyzed included GPS-derived distance, speed, acceleration, deceleration, and RPE. Two-way between-subjects ANOVAs were used to compare average and peak GPS metrics and RPE between training games and competition for playing positions.

Despite eliciting significantly higher average total distances compared to competition (p < 0.01), LSGs produced significantly lower peak total distance relative to competition (p < 0.01). For very high-speed running and sprinting, LSGs elicited similar average intensities to competition; however, peak intensities were significantly lower than competition (p < 0.01). MSGs and LSGs produced significantly higher average and peak moderate-intensity explosive distances than competition (p < 0.01). Results indicate the importance of analyzing relative to peak competitive demands instead of focusing solely on average demands. The study demonstrates specific game formats can overload the competitive demands of playing positions and provide an individualized training stimulus.

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