Manipulating field dimensions during small-sided games impacts the technical and physical profiles of Australian footballers
This study investigated the effect of manipulating field dimensions on the technical and physical profiles of Australian football (AF) players during small-sided games (SSGs). A total of 40 male players (23.9 ± 3.5 y) participated in three, five-a-side SSGs; defined as ‘small’ (20m x 30m; 600m2), ‘medium’ (30m x 40m; 1200m2), and ‘large’ (40m x 50m; 2000m2). Notational analyses enabled the quantification of technical skill indicators, while physical activity profiles were measured using microtechnology, resulting in 18 criterion variables. A multivariate analysis of variance modelled the main effect of field dimension on the criterion variables. A significant main effect was observed (V = 1.032; F38, 102 = 2.863; P <0.05), with the ‘small’ and ‘medium’ SSGs generating more turnovers and ineffective handballs relative to the ‘large’ SSG. Further, the ‘small’ SSG generated more tackles and fewer bounces compared to the ‘large’ SSG. The ‘large’ SSG generated a greater absolute distance, relative distance, maximum velocity, PlayerLoad® and distance >4.16 m.s-1 compared to the ‘small’ and ‘medium’ SSGs. These results provide AF coaches with insights into how task constraint manipulation impacts the technical and physical profiles of players during small-sided game-play. Thus, coaches and physical performance specialists could use this information to assist with the tactical periodisation of technical complexity and physical load at different phases of the AF season.