Comparison of Physical Demands between Possession Games and Matches in Football
The main purpose of this study was to examine the extent to which possession games (POS) are efficient in stimulating the physical and physiological demands of competition and their relationship with the player’s position in competitive matches. A descriptive study was conducted with 19 professional footballers in Argentina (24.7±4.8 years, 74.5±6.2 kg, 176.3±5.3 cm). Load was monitored by GPS and heart rate (HR) of each player in 16 competitive matches (eight observations for each tactical system: 1- 3-4-3 and 1-4-2-1-3) and during three POS formats: 6 vs. 6, 7 vs. 7 and 8 vs. 8 (eight observations for each format). The average (AHR) and maximum (MHR) heart rate and the HSLR (distance travelled >14.9 kph, per minute) and HILR (distance travelled >19.9 kph, per minute) metabolic load rates were analysed. When the sample means were compared, both metabolic rates were significantly lower in POS, but with HSLR values representing 69-75% of the level reached in matches. The AHR value in POS was similar to competition (except 8 vs. 8), while the MHR was significantly lower in POS. When performance between playing positions was compared, no significant differences were observed in the HILR and the HSLR for central defenders and midfielders or in all playing positions for the AHR. In conclusion, possession games could be used to recreate the physical and physiological demands to which players are exposed during competition, significantly influencing their internal-external load.