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Small-Sided Games: The pathway to skilled performers?

HLPE 2531 Presentation

Andy Thomas

on 25 November 2013

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Transcript of Small-Sided Games: The pathway to skilled performers?

HLPE 2531 Presentation
Small-Sided Games:
The pathway to skilled performers?
Research Question:
Does the use of small-sided games positively influence skill development within soccer players of varying experience levels?
This study has added to previous research around small-sided games, in terms of inclusiveness and participants perceived skill level and development increases. However, with the research conducted, there were a number of limitations that would need to be addressed in further research. For example, this study only saw three small-sided games of soccer played. This number should ideally be bigger to gain any concrete evidence, as a result, further research would need to be conducted in order to confirm the results gathered. One unanswered aspect of the study, and certainly something that could be researched further, is the off-ball side of the game, and the use of small-sided games in developing off ball skill, which is an overlooked aspect of most games. Again, a more rigorous research method may be able to answer this.
To conclude, the research question sought to find whether small-sided games were an effective method for positively influencing skill development amongst players of varying experience. This study has achieved this and served to confirm and add to existing research in similar areas.

Small sided games
Over time, problems of inclusiveness as well as congestion have been evident in many parent games that involve a large number of participants. As a result of this limited interaction with the game, it has been suggested that players may not gain tactical awareness or competency within the game as a result (Curtner-Smith, 1996). In a society where physical activity has become increasingly more important, the problems faced in these games have been researched and techniques have been developed in an attempt to overcome them. One example of which, is the use of small-sided games. Bunker and Thorpe (1982) originally created the ideology of small-sided sector games as a way to develop tactical understanding, however, since its development many other pedagogies have advocated the use of small-sided games. Play with Purpose is one example of this, explaining that small-sided games can serve to maximise participation for skill learning as well as construct a suitable environment for game understanding (Pill, 2013). This investigation will research the effectiveness of small-sided games as a non-linear pedagogical approach to teaching games as a way of developing sporting proficiency. Below is an example of a small-sided game with a tactical focus.
Literature Review
What are Small-Sided Games?
Small-sided games are a development of the Game Sense approach to teaching sports, which are derived from the parent version of the game. They are designed to accelerate skill learning through creating more opportunities for game participation and engagement compared to the full sized, or parent, versions of the game (Coyle, 2009). The games are created with tactical problems of which players must solve through applying a sense of game understanding as well as a whole range of movement responses as a result of the players game understanding and decision making (Murphy & Pill, 2011). The role of the coach in these games is to facilitate learning through the use of questioning that guides players development (Murphy & Pill, 2011).

Perceived skill levels of the players in the Pre-Game survey were quite low, with the majority of the participants saying they have a fairly limited skill set. However, in the Post-Game surveys, response to the question of “Over the course of the three games, to what extent do you feel your skill improved?” 66.6% of the participants exclaimed that experienced a slight skill increase. Although the study was limited to three small-sided games, the fact that participants felt some improvement is a testament to the effectiveness of small-sided games, which has been researched by Pill (2012). Responses to the Post-Game survey question “Briefly explain why you did/didn’t see improvement in skill” were extremely positive, with most participants explaining that due to the more opportunities they had with the ball in their possession, it allowed them to become better in certain situations and under pressure, an aspect of small-sided games that has been researched by Oh, Bullard and Hovatter (2011) who suggest that performing a skill correctly can lead to feelings of accomplishment and therefore participants want to replicate those feelings.
Literature Review
Another benefit of small-sided games is that they can serve as an alternative to traditional conditioning methods. Using soccer as an example, Reilly and White (2005) explain that soccer players require the ability to sustain exercise at a high intensity, much like many other sports. Their research states that while more traditional methods of gaining this exercise ability such as interval-training have been used, the use of small-sided games as a way of addressing two of the most important factors of the game in physical fitness as well as tactical awareness is significant (Reilly & White, 2005). The most important result found was that the use of small-sided games as a physical training alternative had the same physiological benefits as the running regimes used within the study (Reilly & White, 2005). This data is represented in the table below.
Literature review
From an educational perspective, Pill (2011) explains the merit and simplicity of involving small-sided games within a school curriculum. Furthermore, research by Hubball and Butler (2006) explains that small-sided games are a great way for children to learn many other skills that aren’t necessarily skill related. For example, it’s said that allowing students to organise the rules, determine the parameters of the playing space, conduct performance analysis of the games and provide each other with specific strategies for improvement allows students to build relationships with one another, but also develop organisational and reasoning qualities (Hubball & Butler, 2006).
Research Method
To research the influence of small sided-games on skill development, the game of soccer was used to analyse results. In total, 6 subjects were studied. Each of the participants had a background in the game of soccer varying in age, skill level and experience (skill level was perceived, not measured prior to testing). Participants were firstly given a quick survey to analyse their current standpoint within the game of soccer, which involved questions to gauge their perceived ability and how active and included they felt whilst playing in a game of soccer. The following is a link to the survey questions: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/FZ5G663

After all completing the first survey, participants engaged in three 15 minute small sided-soccer games (3 vs. 3) held once a day on selected days of which all players were available. Data, which included aspects such as number of actions performed by each player, was collected from these games and can be found in the results section. This was then compared to data extracted from a professional soccer game for the same amount of time. After the three small-sided soccer sessions, participants took another survey which included more questions on their new perceptions of ability, as well as inclusiveness.

Reference List
AFL, (2012). AFL Auskick [Image] Retrieved from: http://mm.afl.com.au/afl_heritage/popup/Auskick_Rd05_CollvEss_SG032.htm
Arnett, M. G. (2001). The effect of sport-based physical education lessons on physical activity. Physical Educator, 58(3), 158. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.flinders.edu.au/ps/i.do?action=interpret&id=GALE%7CA80157705&v=2.1&u=flinders&it=r&p=EAIM&sw=w&authCount=1
Arnett, M. G. (2004). Effect of team size in soccer on moderate to vigorous physical activity. Physical Educator, 61(3), 114-119. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.flinders.edu.au/docview/233005755/1413A2332DC48D49B38/2?accountid=10910
Coyle, D. (2009). The talent code: Greatness isn't born : it's grown, here's how. New York: Bantam Books.
Curtner-Smith, M. D. (1996). Using games invention with elementary children. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 67(3), 33. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.flinders.edu.au/docview/215770200/141337686944191A6B5/2?accountid=10910
Greenwood-Parr, M., & Oslin, J. (1998). Promoting lifelong involvement through physical activity. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, 69(2), 72-76. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.flinders.edu.au/pqcentral/docview/215766547/14171DFDBC84BA1EA00/1?accountid=10910
Hill-Haas, S. V., Coutts, A. J., Dawson, B. T., & Rowsell, G. J. (2010). Time-motion characteristics and physiological responses of small-sided games in elite youth players: The influence of player number and rule changes. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 24(8), 2149-56. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.flinders.edu.au/docview/745598175/1413A072AF069AD09BE/1?accountid=10910
Hubball, H., & Butler, J. (2006). Learning-centred approaches to games education: Problem-based learning (PBL) in a Canadian youth soccer program. Journal of Physical Education New Zealand, 39(1), 20-33. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/211198104?accountid=10910
Launder, A., & Piltz, W. (2006). Beyond 'understanding' to skillful play in games, through play practice. Journal of Physical Education New Zealand, 31(9), 47-57. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.flinders.edu.au/docview/211172865/1412F0C236471F375C3/4?accountid=10910
Murphy, J. & Pill, S. (2011). Moving, learning and achieving in football (soccer). In Edited Proceedings of the 27th ACHPER International Conference. pp. 222-223
Oh, H., Bullard, S., & Hovatter, R. (2011). Speedminton: Using the tactical games model in secondary physical education. Strategies, 25(1), 26-30. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/888060983?accountid=10910
Pill, S. A. (2011). Seizing the moment: Can game sense further inform sport teaching in Australian physical education? PHENex Journal, 3(1), 10-11. Retrieved from http://ojs.acadiau.ca/index.php/phenex/article/view/1327/1188
Pill, S. (2012). Teaching game sense in soccer. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 83(3), 42-46. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/931110963?accountid=10910
Pill, S. (2013). Play with purpose: Game sense to sport literacy (3rd ed.). Hindmarsh, S. Aust: Australian Council for Health, Physical Education and Recreation (ACHPER).
ReedswainVideo, (2012, April 2). Small-sided games to develop soccer intelligence part 1. Video posted to:
Reilly, T. & White, C. (2005). Small-sided games as an alternative to interval-training for soccer players. In Science and football V: The proceedings of the Fifth World Congress on Science and Football (pp. 355-357). London, England: Routledge.
The Back Post (2012). Small-sided games [Image] Retrieved from: http://www.thebackpost.net/?p=2796
Thorpe, R. & Bunker, D. (1982). A model for teaching of games in the secondary school. Bulletin of physical education, 18(1), 5-8.
does the approach have an effect on the perceived ability and skill of the individuals partaking in the games?
Many benefits have been found as a result of incorporating small-sided games into coaching. One particular study has shown that the rate of perceived exhaustion is dramatically increased when the number of players within a team is decreased, a psychological response that can intern lead to physiological responses such as increased heart and breathing rate (Hill-Haas, Coutts, Dawson & Rowsell, 2010). The study also found that rule changes related to a team’s chance of scoring can improve players’ motivation levels and as a result, increase the intensity of the session. Overall, the major findings of the study showed that subtle rule changes can influence the physiological, motivational and time-motion responses of players (Hill-Haas et al., 2010). The use of small-sided games to increase activity levels has also been researched by Arnett (2004) who honed in on the optimum size for each team in order to gain the greatest level of activity for each participant which was found to be teams of three or less. Furthermore, research conducted by Calleja & Kern (2008) found that regardless of the amount of players engaging in a particular sport (as many as 12 versus 12), the game essentially evolved into a three on three contest. The research showed that the involvement rate significantly decreased as the games increased in participant levels, with three versus three having an involvement rate of 95% compared to 19% for games of nine versus nine or higher. Arnett (2001) explains that small-sided games can be useful for game-like skills where participants can practice on and off-ball skills.

Table 1. Peak blood lactate (mmol.l-1) concentrations reached at the end of all-out exercise over 6 weeks of training. The data for week 5 is missing (Reilly & White, 2005, p. 356).
Research Method
The small-sided games were conducted with the following guidelines:
The following table explains which skills were recorded and how they can be defined.
Graph 1. Results to the question “how active/involved do you feel in a regular game of soccer”
Graph 2. Participants perceived skill level Pre-Small-sided games
Graph 3. The average number of actions performed by participants compared to a full-sized parent game.
Graph 4. The average number of individual actions performed by participants compared to a full-sized parent game.
Graph 5. Post-game survey results of “how active/involved did you feel in the Small-sided games?”
Graph 6. Participants’ feelings on their own skill improvement over the course of the small-sided games.
Briefly explain why you did/didn't see improvement in skill
• I improved my passing because I had to do it lots
• I think I improved lots because I always had to make good decisions. I was always okay at passing and shooting, but that was without pressure. The games helped me get better at skills under pressure.
• Because I haven't played soccer in a while it was good to get my touch back this was definitely improved by getting heaps of the ball.
• It was hard to see an improvement in only three games. But I think if we played them for longer and more often there would have been improvements.
• Because you get the ball more often with less people, you practice the skills more in the game.
• I think that because you're always getting touches and under pressure, it forces you to make decisions and correctly execute them which has definitely made me a little bit better.

Survey Results to the Question "Briefly Explain why you did/didn't see improvement in skill
Results gathered from the Pre-Game surveys were quite alarming, with 83.3% of the participants saying that they only feel somewhat involved when playing a full (11 vs. 11) soccer match. In the same survey, when asked to share some of their experiences with the game of soccer, some of the participants shared that they no longer played due to reasons of feeling and being told that they were not tactically sound. One participant in particular responded with “I played soccer for school but I stopped after a season because one of my coaches told me I was always in the wrong place so I never really enjoyed it”. Another concern was the participants sense of involvement within full soccer games. One participant had this to say: “I feel good when I play soccer, but sometimes I get bored waiting for the ball. I think that's just part of the game though.” This is the type of response that serves the reason behind this study. Waiting for the ball shouldn’t have to be a part of the game, especially if this leads to feelings of unhappiness with the sport. Small-sided games are a great way to encourage lifelong participation in physical activity and through this, participants can be encouraged to stay within a particular sport that they really enjoy (Greenwood-Parr & Oslin, 1998). Results collated in terms of the average amount of actions performed by the studies participants compared to a full-sized game of the same time limit showed major increases in the amount of actions that each participant performed throughout the three small-sided games (Graph 3 & Graph 4). Launder and Piltz (2006) confirm these findings, explaining that more time with the ball not only allows for more skilled execution of the required task, but it increases tactical knowledge of the players as well.
(The Back Post, 2012)
(AFL, 2012)
(Click 'Play' to watch video)
(ReedswainVideo, 2012)
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