Training practices for elite soccer players should take into account specific technical, tactical and physical components. As a consequence of these demands small-sided games (SSGs) have become a popular conditioning tool that replicate the demands encountered during match play. The aim of this investigation was to examine how the manipulation of exercise to rest ratio, within the same overall duration, affected both physical and technical outcomes during SSGs in elite youth soccer. Twelve elite youth soccer players participated in three variations of eight minute 6v6 SSGs. The three variations included eight minutes continuous, 2×4min and 4×2min. Players perceived the continuous 8min block as the hardest (4.5±1.5AU), followed by the 2×4min (3.9±1.4AU) and the 4×2min (3.3±1.4AU), although no difference in mean HR or physical measures via GPS analysis between SSGs was evident. From the technical perspective, only goals scored reached significance, with post hoc analysis identifying the number of goals scored were significantly higher during the 4×2min and 2×4min SSGs compared to 8min continuous block. These results show that subjective ratings of exertion differed between conditions, but only minor technical manipulations were observed by adjusting work to rest ratios, with no significant effect on physical performance.
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