Effect of Game Design, Goal Type, and Player Numbers on the Physiological and Physical Demands of Hurling-Specific Small-Sided Games

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Malone, S and Collins, K. Effect of game design, goal type, and player numbers on the physiological and physical demands of hurling-specific small-sided games. J Strength Cond Res 31(6): 1493–1499, 2017—The current study examined the effect that game design modification, goal type, and player numbers on the running performance and physiological demands of small-sided hurling games (SSG). Forty-eight hurling players (age, 25.5 ± 3.2 years; height, 178.9 ± 3.2 cm; body mass, 78.5 ± 4.5 kg) performed 4 types of SSG (possession [P], normal play [NP], regular goals [RG] and small goals [SG]) in 4-a-side, 5-a-side, and 6-a-side formats. Heart rate (Polar Electro Oy) and global positioning system technology (VX Sport, 4-Hz, Lower Hutt) were used to analyze the physical and physiological differences between SSG. Total distance (m), high-speed running distance (m) (≥17 km·h−1), very–high speed running distance (≥22 km·h−1) (m), peak and mean velocity (km·h−1) were analyzed as an indicator of the physical demands of play. The 4-a-side SSG independent of game design and goal type resulted in a significantly higher relative exercise intensity compared with 5-a-side (mean change: 6 ± 2%; p = 0.001; d = 1.9 ± 0.2; large) and 6-a-side SSG independent of game design or goal type (mean change: 12 ± 2%; p = 0.001; d = 2.9 ± 0.8; very large). The 4-a-side SG (619 ± 106-m [419–735-m]) resulted in the highest distance when compared with all PP (mean change: 141 ± 9 m; p = 0.05; d = 1.9 ± 0.3; moderate) and RG (mean change: 119 ± 39 m; p = 0.004; d = 2.1 ± 0.8; large). Similar trends were observed for 5-a-side and 6-a-side games with SG resulting in increased total running performance. In conclusion, the current observations reveal that 4-a-side NP, SG, and RG have the highest physiological demands with 4-a-side SG having increased running performance in contrast to other game design and goal-type games. Furthermore, independent of game design and goal type, 4-a-side SSG show increased relative intensity compared with 5-a-side and 6-a-side SSG.

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