Small sided games in soccer – a systematic review

Hugo Sarmento, Filipe Manuel Clemente, Liam Harper, Israel Teoldo da Costa, Adam Owen, Antonio Figueiredo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

207 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of this paper was to systematically review and organise the literature on soccer SSGs, in order to ascertain the most frequently researched topics, characterise the methodologies employed, and systematise the evolution of the related research areas. A systematic review of Web of Science, Pubmed and SPORTDiscus databases was performed according to PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses) guidelines. The following keywords were used: football and soccer, with each one associated with the terms: “small sided games”, SSG, “drill-based training”, “small sided”, “conditioned games” and “position games”. The search returned 394 records. After screening against set criteria, a total of 77 manuscripts were fully reviewed. The most common topics of analysis were (1) pitch area; (2) player number: (a) with/without a goalkeeper; (b) with floater(s) in/outside the pitch; (3) goal: (a) goal vs. scoring zone; (b) number of goals; (c) size of goals; (4) rules modification/task constraints (a) no. of ball touches; (b) offside rule; (c) others; (4) training regimen; (5) coach encouragement. This review provides valuable information on the complex relationship between technical, tactical and physiological interactions in SSGs and how the manipulation of these types of variables can improve the soccer training process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)693-749
Number of pages57
JournalInternational Journal of Performance Analysis in Sport
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 27 Sep 2018


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