Lacome M., Simpson B.M, Cholley Y., Buchheit M. Locomotor and heart rate responses of floaters during small-sided games in elite soccer players: effect of pitch size and inclusion of goal keepers. IJSPP, In press
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Figure 1: Standardised differences between floaters and regular players SWC: smallest worthwhile change; *: possibly; **: likely; ***: most likely; ****: almost certainly difference.
Purpose: To (1) compare the locomotor and heart rate responses between floaters and regular players during both small and large small sided games (SSGs) and (2) examine whether the type of game (i.e., game simulation vs possession game) affects the magnitude of the difference between floaters and regular players.
Methods: Data were collected in 41 players belonging to an elite French football team during three consecutive seasons (2014-2017). 5-Hz GPS were used to collect all training data, with the Athletic Data Innovation analyser (v126.96.36.1994, Sydney, Australia) used to derive total distance (m), high-speed distance (> 14.4 km.h-1, m) and external mechanical load (MechL, a.u). All SSGs included exclusively one floater, and were divided into two main categories, according to the participation of goal-keepers (GK) (game simulation, GS) or not (possession games, PO) and then further divided into small and large (>100 m2/player) SSGs based on the area per player ratio.
Results: Locomotor activity and mechanical load performed were likely-to-most likely lower (moderate to large magnitude) in floaters compared with regular players, while differences in HR responses were unclear to possibly higher (small) in floaters. The magnitude of the difference in locomotor activity and MechL between floaters and regular players was substantially greater during GS compared with PO.
Conclusions: Compared with regular players, floaters present decreased external load (both locomotor and MechL) despite unclear to possibly slightly higher HR responses during SSGs. Moreover, the responses of floaters compared with regular players are not consistent across different sizes of SSGs, with greater differences during GS than PO.
Keywords: Small-sided games, soccer, floaters, locomotor activity, mechanical load.