How coaches use their knowledge to develop small-sided soccer games: a case study

  • FM Clemente
  • FML Martins
  • RS Mendes
Keywords: Coach knowledge, Small-sided games, Soccer, Qualitative and quantitative methods.


The method employed by coaches when designing small-sided soccer games has had limited attention from the scientific community. Therefore, the aim of this study was to undertake a case study where one expert coach was interviewed and tasked with designing and justifying four different small-sided games (SSG) for different physiological effects. Using these games, players were tested and the real-time heart rate responses of the players were compared with the coach’s estimation. Both qualitative methodology and quantitative methodology were developed to differentiate the games in terms of the effort produced. The coach’s estimation was compared with the actual real-time effects produced by the players’ efforts. It was possible to identify that, as predicted by the coach during the design of the games, the management of task constraints such as goals/targets and specific zones of action had statistical effects on the players’ efforts as measured by heart rate monitors. The case study revealed how the soccer-specific coach organises his knowledge and experience to develop small-sided games. Possibilities for future study that would identify the fundamental decisions that differentiate novice and experienced coaches were revealed.

Key words: Coach knowledge; Small-sided games; Soccer; Qualitative and quantitative methods.


Journal Identifiers

print ISSN: 0379-9069