How small-sided games can deliver big results
Small-sided games (SSG) are an ideal tool for developing technical, tactical and physical capabilities, while also boosting motivation for athletes during training.
George Farrell — a UK-based strength and conditioning coach and sport scientist — says SSGs help coaches improve their athletes’ physical performance more so than traditional or generic training drills.
Principally, Farrell says SSGs — such as 5 v 5 in soccer or 3 v 3 in basketball — help develop aerobic and anaerobic conditioning.
“Conditioning is vitally important for team sports – basically put, we can reduce the risk of injury by making our players robust,” he said during his Science for Sport presentation titled ‘Small Sided Games’.
“We have to make sure they are … fit enough to compete – if they’re not fit enough, they’ll get injured. So we have to make sure they’re in the best possible shape to fulfil the demands of the game.
“Conditioning for team sports requires enhancing both the aerobic and anaerobic systems … traditional continuous aerobic training is not specific to team sport activity and the aim should be to train as close to the demands of the sport as possible.
“When considering SSGs, you have to consider the adaptations we want but secondly, we want to have a happier environment – it’s a lot easier at training if they [athletes] are happy with what they’re doing. And it’s a no-brainer as to what players would rather do – more often than not players won’t be happy [with generic conditioning such as standard running drills].
“The advantages of SSGs are player engagement, improved motivation to train, technical, tactical and physical development, [they are time] efficient, replicate movement patterns/muscle groups and challenge skill under fatigue.”