Analysis of Small Game Areas of 4Vs4 and 7Vs7 in Spanish
Professional Football
O. Caro
, L. Fradua
, A. Zubillaga
and J. Fernandez-Navarro
Granada University,
Granada, Spain
University of the Basque Country UPV/EHU
Aspire ZF, Aspetar, NSMP, Excellence in Football Project, Doha, Qatar
Keywords: Amisco System, Individual Playing Area, Match Analysis, Small-Sided Games.
Abstract: The aim of this study was to analyse the reduced space game situations that appear during competition in
soccer considering interactions with a small number of players involved. The Amisco system was employed
to collect the dimensions of playing areas of different situations from competition in order to extrapolate the
results to the appropriate training drills design in reduced space. 8,727 4v4 and 7v7 game situations were
collected for the study. Width, length and individual playing area were registered from these situations. The
influence of the zone of the pitch in the configuration of these spaces was also considered. The results showed
that the dimensions of the areas designed for training drills are larger than those in competition. The influence
of the zone of the pitch is also significant, mainly in 4v4 situations. This should be considered to adjust the
training drills design depending on the intended tactical aim, directly associated with the zone of the pitch
where the training drill is developed.
Small-sided games (SSGs) are considered as
modified training drills developed in limited areas.
SSGs frequently have adapted rules and the
participation of fewer players than in a usual soccer
match (Hill-Haas, Dawson, Impellizzeri & Coutts,
2011). They are currently an appropriate way for
improving technical and tactical abilities besides
player’s physical performance (Fradua et al, 2013).
SSGs are employed widely abroad and constitute the
basis for many development programmes in soccer
(Fradua, Zubillaga, Ruiz-Ruiz, Caro & Fernández-
Navarro, 2012).
Previous research addressed the evaluation of game
situations in reduced space and identified two different
aspects. Many studies were associated with the
analysis of SSGs during training to know the physical
demands of different training drills and the benefits
from the conditional scope (Casamichana &
Castellano, 2011; Hill-Haas et al, 2011; Hill-Haas
et al.,
2009; Hoff et al., 2002; Köklü, 2012; Little,
2009). On the other hand, other studies focused on
motor behaviour analysis and technical abilities of the
game (Bekris et al., 2012; Dellal et al., 2013; Jones &
Drust, 2007; Katis & Kellys, 2009; Kelly y Drust,
2009). All the studies showed game situations during
the training session with reduced spaces and a small
number of players, and therefore tried to determine
the physical, technical and tactical demands in
SSGs have the characteristics present in a soccer
match and therefore players experience the situations
that they find in competition, or similar to them
(Owen, Twist & Ford, 2004). SSGs include elements
from match play and possess their own complexity
(Morin, 1998), consequently they are suitable for
learning and acquiring technical and tactical skills
(Parlebas, 2001).
Learning through SSGs is determined by different
variables (Little, 2009). Number of players involved,
playing area, and individual playing area are the
decisive aspects. Previous research suggested playing
area dimensions for different options of interaction in
reduced space. These suggestions are justified by the
conditional or tactical load attempted.
Whereas previous studies stated the specificity of
SSGs, none of them provided justification for the
dimensions of the space suggested based on the
analysis of competition (Fradua et al., 2013). For this
study, the dimensions of the areas are considered as the
most important aspect for training drills, and if the aim
is to develop specific training drills the dimensions of
Caro O., Fradua L., Zubillaga A. and Fernandez-Navarro J..
Analysis of Small Game Areas of 4vs4 and 7vs7 in Spanish Professional Football.
DOI: 10.5220/0005191202310235
In Proceedings of the 2nd International Congress on Sports Sciences Research and Technology Support (PerSoccer-2014), pages 231-235
ISBN: 978-989-758-057-4
2014 SCITEPRESS (Science and Technology Publications, Lda.)
the area suggested should be similar to the one in
competition. Mainly, the individual playing area (IPA)
that represents the value of the area as the relationship
between the total area of the pitch and the total number
of players involved in the game (Parlebas, 2001),
because this determines the difficulty of the training
drill for the player.
The influence of the zone of the pitch as a
performance indicator (Reina Gómez & Hernández-
Mendo, 2012) was previously analysed in relation to
the areas for game situations (Fradua et al.,
Zubillaga et al., 2013). Different zones of the pitch
depending on the tactical aims and the phases of the
game can be considered to show a practical
justification of the results of this study (Garganta,
1997; Díaz- Díaz, 2011)
During a soccer match, numerous situations and
actions directly involve the nearest players to the
player in possession of the ball. The positioning of
these players, especially adversaries, determines that
such actions will be reduced in space and time (Vilar
et al., 2013). These competitive situations justify the
use of the widely discussed training drills in small
space or small-sided games (Hill-Haas et. al., 2011).
Previous studies (Fradua et. al., 2013; Zubillaga et.
al., 2011) utilised a novel procedure to analyse
competition for the subsequent design of the training
drills with similar characteristics of depth, width and
individual playing area. This study aims to describe
the reduced space situations of 4v4 and 7v7 that
appear in soccer match play and to analyse the
influence of the pitch zone in the variables measured.
A multiple-camera player tracking system (AMISCO
Pro, Nice, France) was used to record the playing area
of these situations of 7vs7 and 4vs4. A total of 25
matches, 5 per team, of the 1st Spanish Division were
analysed. Pitch Zone, Player’s position and
movements were registered with a frequency of
twenty-five records per second (Zubillaga et al.,
2007). A total set of 8727 data were collected, all of
them in possession phases of the game. Records
where the ball was out of play were removed. Data
were recorded at intervals of 5 seconds and the pitch
was divided in six zones (figure 1).
For data collection of the 4v4 and 7v7 situations,
the 8 and 14 nearest players to the ball determine the
four limits of the
playing area considered. The cases
where the nearest players to the ball do not allow an
equal distribution of 4 or 7 players per team, e.g. a
fifth player from one team should be taken in the area
of selection to obtain the fourth player of the opposite
team; were not considered for data collection (Figure
Figure 1: Schematic Representation of the Six Zones Used
in the Analysis. All Zones were Determined Using Athletic
Mode AmiscoPro® (Nice, France).
Figure 2: Playing area selection AmiscoPro® (Nice,
France). 4vs4.
The analysis of variance (ANOVA) showed that
depth is lower than width in all the pitch zones and
for both situations. The mean depth and width was
27.74 m and 32.15 m respectively for 7v7, and for 4v4
the mean depth was 16.34 m and the mean width was
19.08 m. Significant differences (p<0.05) were found
in these values depending on the pitch zones where
the action occurs. With the two variables (width and
length) we can obtain directly the third one, the
Individual Playing Area (IPA). This is the most
important data to analyse the different demands that
the SSG can generated in the players. For this reason
we put focus in the results and discussion of this paper
in that.
* p<0,001
Figure 3: IPA 4vs4 SSG during competition.
* p<0,001
Ns Without Differences
Figure 4: IPA 7vs7 SSG during competition.
The results from the analysis of the competition
showed that the mean dimensions of the 4v4 playing
area during match play were smaller than the
dimensions presented in previous research (Aroso et
al, 2004; Casamichana & Castellano, 2010 & 2011;
Coutts et al., 2009; Dellal et al., 2008; Fanchini et
al., 2011;
Hill-Haas et al., 2008 y 2009; Jones &
Drust, 2007; Little & Wiliams, 2006 & 2007;
Mohammad et al., 2011; Owen et al., 2004;
Rampinini et al., 2007; Sjökvist et al., 2011;
Williams & Owen, 2007). Mean dimensions of
16.34 m long and 19.08 m wide that consequently
generate an IPA of 42.38 m
showed a considerable
dimension reduction in comparison with previous
research. Thus, considering the results of this
investigation, training drills suggested in previous
studies related with SSGs could consider a reduction
in the 4v4 area to analyse this specific situation
derived from competition. Nevertheless although
these dimensions were obtained from the analysis of
the competition; the aim of training, level of players,
or their learning age could be also determining for the
adaptation of playing area suggested from this study
(Vilar et al., 2014).
The influence of the zone according to the playing area
was significant, especially in 4v4 situations where the
results are more easily identifiable with the tactical
objectives of each zone of the pitch, both in width and
length. The zones that do not present differences
between playing areas are zone 1 with zone 5 and 6,
and zone 2 with zone 3. Density of players is higher in
zones near to the goals (zones 1 in relation with the
defended goal; 5 and 6 in relation with the attacked
goal) moreover the main aim of the defensive team is
to prevent from scoring and the overcoming of their
own defenders, reducing the distance from the
attacking players. Hence, this explains that length in
zones 1, 5 and 6 were the lowest of all the zones.
These zones also presented the lowest IPA values,
thus confirming the increased time and space
demands for players in these zones.
The 7v7 situations have not been analysed in
previous research and their analysis can be considered
important due to 7-a-side soccer is the competition
format established in several countries for the first years
of competition in youth soccer.
The 7v7 game situation presents results less
related with specific tactical behaviours of each zone
of the pitch. Only significant differences appear
between the dimensions of playing area in zones 2
and 3, both associated with the beginning and
organisation of the attacking phase. When comparing
7v7 with 4v4 it can be stated that in the 4v4 situation
players are closer to the ball and this is associated
with tactical behaviours of each zone in the pitch. On
the other hand, the separation of the players around
the ball in 7v7 situation and the low participation and
influence of the players away from these 14 players,
could determine the difficulty in explaining the
results obtained. In a 4v4 situation the IPA is reduced
in zones 1,5 and 6 as a result of the higher density of
players associated with the reduction of space,
nevertheless in 7v7 situation this trend did not appear.
In zones of the pitch associated with finishing and
individual marking, playing actions are performed by
a smaller number of players. Therefore, although in
the selection of the 7v7 playing area the 14 players
closest to the ball are included, it is possible for
players further away from those 14 to have little or no
participation at the moment recorded.
Besides the difference in the influence of the zone
of the pitch in playing area in each of the two
situations analysed, we can see that it is not possible
to establish a proportional relationship in playing
areas for the different game situations. In a previous
study, Fradua et al., (2013) conducted an analysis of
the competition identical to this study and
extrapolated the dimensions of the 10v10 situation to
a reduced 5v5 situation. Regarding the results of this
investigation it can be stated that is not possible to do
a proportional extrapolation of one situation to
another, because each one of the game situations have
a different playing areas. Based on the IPA of the
10v10 situation (84 m
) (Fradua et al., 2013), th e
area for a 7v7 situation should have,
considering the number of players, an IPA
of 59 m
, and the 4v4 situation an IPA of 33.5 m
However, in competition there is a higher IPA in both
situations (7v7=66 m
and 4v4=42 m
The results from this study showed that each game
situation has its own characteristics, and they should
be considered in relation to the zone of the pitch where
the action occurs. This is a determining aspect for the
tactical aims that the teams want to develop, and affect
the configuration of playing areas that appear during
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