The Influence of Pitch Size on Running Performance and Physiological Responses During Hurling-Specific Small-Sided Games

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Malone, S and Collins, K. The Influence of pitch size on running performance and physiological responses during hurling-specific small-sided games. J Strength Cond Res 31(6): 1518–1524, 2017—The current study examined how the impact of pitch dimensions influences physiological and running performance during 4-minute small-sided games (SSGs). Twenty-four (n = 24) hurling players were monitored with global positioning system and heart rate monitors during the in-season training period. Total distance (in meters), high-speed running distance (in meters) (≥17 km·h−1), very high-speed running distance (≥22 km·h−1) (in meters), total accelerations (n), acceleration distance (in meters), and peak and mean velocity (in kilometers per hour) were calculated. Additionally, SSGs rate of perceived exertion (RPESSG; AU), % maximum heart rate, and individualized training impulse (iTRIMP; AU) were collected. The current results show that the manipulation of SSGs pitch size has an impact on the running performance and physiological responses. The data showed that SSGs played on large pitches (SSG80 × 20 m) had greater running demands than medium (SSG60 × 20 m) or small (SSG40 × 20 m) pitches, with significantly more distance covered in all movement categories. Total distance covered at high speed was 354 ± 111 m on a large pitch, 254 ± 72 m on a medium pitch, and 198 ± 62 m on a small pitch. Large pitch dimensions resulted in greater physiological and perceptual demands on players (higher %HRmax, iTRIMP [AU], and RPESSG [AU]) compared with medium and small pitches. The current data help applied practitioners to understand further how modifying different aspects of SSGs can alter the running and physiological responses of players. Moreover, applied practitioners now have consistent information to design and optimize their training time in mixing the physical, technical, and tactical elements within specific SSGs pitch dimensions.

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