Time-motion analysis of acceleration demands of 4v4 small-sided soccer games played on different pitch sizes

Craig Hodgson, Richard Akenhead, Kevin Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

133 Citations (Scopus)


We aimed to quantify the time–motion characteristics and technical demands of small-sided soccer games (SSGs) played on small, medium and large pitches using a high frequency non-differential global positioning system (NdGPS) that allowed assessment of acceleration and deceleration patterns. Eight male soccer players competed in SSGs comprising 4 × 4 min quarters (3 min recovery) on small (30 × 20 m) medium (40 × 30 m) and large (50 × 40 m) pitch sizes. Time motion analysis using a NdGPS positioning system quantified distance covered sprinting (⩾6.7 m s−1), high speed running (⩾5.8 m s−1) and low (1–2 m s−2), medium (2–3 m s−2) and high (>3 m s−2) acceleration. The frequency of common technical actions (passing, turning, dribbling, shooting, tackling, heading and interceptions) was performed using a hand notation system. SSGs played on medium and large pitches had a greater physical demand than on small pitches, with significantly more distance covered in all movement categories. Total distance covered in acceleration categories ranged from 230 ± 111 (small pitch) to 356 ± 72 m (medium pitch). The small pitch imposed a greater technical demand on players (more passes, shots and tackles) compared to medium and large pitches. The study provides novel data demonstrating the acceleration patterns observed in SSGs are relatively greater than those observed during professional match play. Thus SSGs might offer a “density” type conditioning stimulus. Practitioners should be aware that changes in pitch size impact both the physical and technical demands of SSGs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-32
JournalHuman Movement Science
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2014


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