Analyzing the Effects of Combined Small-Sided Games and Strength and Power Training on The Fitness Status of Under-19 Elite Football Players


Background: The purpose of this study was twofold: 1) to characterize a common microcycle considering both internal and external training loads; and 2) to identify the effects of small-sided games (SSGs) and of power and strength training on the fitness status of football players.

Methods: Fifteen male football players (age: 18.55±0.39 years) participated in this study. Ninety-two consecutive training sessions were monitored and analyzed over a period of nineteen weeks. Rating of perceived exertion (RPE ) was used as an internal load marker, and the distances covered at different speed thresholds and accelerations/decelerations were used as external load markers to characterize the common microcycle. Participants’ body composition, vertical jumping ability, maximal strength, speed, and agility were assessed twice before and after the training monitoring process.

Results: The results revealed that match day -5 (MD-5) and MD-1 were associated with the lowest RPE scores (4.2 and 3.8 A.U., respectively). MD-4 and MD-3 were associated with the highest RPE values (9.2 and 8.8 A.U., respectively). Meaningful changes in RPE were found between training days. External load monitoring revealed that MD-4 had the highest values of accelerations and decelerations >2 m/s2/min (4.22 and 3.17, respectively) and MD-3 had the highest values of distance covered at high intensity (6.11 m/s2/min). Meaningful moderate improvements in jumping performance (d=0.90) and maximal strength parameters (d=0.83) were also found between assessments.

Conclusions: It was identified that the concurrent approach had meaningful impacts on the fitness development of players and should be considered by coaches for future training interventions.

Key Words: football; exercise; athletic performance

Article published in Frontiers in The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 2020 January;60(1):1-10 on 15th July, 2021.