How manipulation of playing area dimensions in ball possession games constrains physical effort and technical actions in under-11, under-15 and under-23 soccer players

Nuno André Nunes, Bruno Gonçalves, Keith Davids, Pedro Esteves, Bruno Travassos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of playing area manipulation (20 × 15 m, 25 × 20 m and 30 × 25 m) on external workloads (total distance covered, distance covered while walking, running and sprinting, number of sprints, maximum sprint speed), internal load perceptions (rating of perceived exertion) and technical actions of passing (number of passes with dominant and non-dominant foot, and maximum passing speed) during 4v4 ball possession small-sided and conditioned games in under-11, under-15 and under-23 soccer players. Results showed higher values in the large playing area for under-11 in the distance covered in different speed zones, sprint number and RPE (all p <.001) for under-15 in sprints number (p <.01) and maximum sprint speed (p =.02), and for under-23 in both RPE and sprint numbers (p <.01). Although no significant differences were found on technical actions, it was still possible to notice some effects through pairwise comparison. High-intensity running was promoted on larger playing areas, where under-11 s were also able to perform more technical actions of passing. Opposite, under-23s were able to perform more passing on smaller playing areas, where under-11 s perceived the exercise more intense. The impact of different playing areas was reduced for the under-15.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)170-184
Number of pages15
JournalResearch in Sports Medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 26 May 2020

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