Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
ISSN: 1303 - 2968   
Ios-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Androit-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
©Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2024) 23, 265 - 275   DOI:

Research article
Sex Influences the Extent of Physical Performance Adaptations in Response to Small-Sided Games and Running-Based High-Intensity Interval Training: A Parallel Study Design Involving Men and Women Soccer Players
Jia He1, , Diao Liu1, Tao Wang2, Qi Xu3, Xiang Zhao4
Author Information
1 Sichuan Normal University, 610066 Chengdu, China
2 Geely University of China, 641423 Chengdu, China
3 Gdansk University of Physical Education and Sport, 80-336 Gdańsk, Poland
4 School of Physical Education, Anhui Normal University, 241002,Wuhu,China

Jia He
✉ Sichuan Normal University, 610066 Chengdu, China
Publish Date
Received: 26-01-2024
Accepted: 05-03-2024
Published (online): 01-06-2024

The aim of this study was two-fold: (i) to compare physical fitness adaptations following small-sided games (SSG) and running-based high-intensity interval training (HIIT), considering sex interactions; and (ii) to describe intra-individual variations of adaptations in both men and women developmental/trained soccer players over an 8-week randomized parallel study design involving 25 women and 27 men. Pre and post-intervention assessments included countermovement jump (CMJ), 10-meter linear sprint test, change-of-direction (COD) deficit, and final velocity at 30-15 Intermittent Fitness Test (VIFT). Significant interactions between time, groups and sex were found in 10-m sprint (F1,48 = 6.042; p = 0.018; ηp2 = 0.112). No significant interactions between time, groups and sex were found in CMJ (F F1,48 = 0.609; p = 0.439; ηp2 = 0.013), COD deficit (F F1,48 = 2.718; p = 0.106; ηp2 = 0.054) and VIFT (F F1,48 = 1.141; p = 0.291; ηp2 = 0.023). Significant interactions were found between time and sex in CMJ (F F1,48 = 29.342; p < 0.001; ηp2= 0.379), 10-m sprint (F F1,48 = 4.359; p = 0.042; ηp2 = 0.083), COD deficit (F F1,48 = 5.066; p = 0.029; ηp2= 0.095) and VIFT (F F1,48 = 11.248; p = 0.002; ηp2 = 0.190). In conclusion, this study suggests similar effects of HIIT in both sexes. However, for women, SSG may entail less efficacy and more inter-individual variability compared to men. Therefore, HIIT could potentially be a better solution for women, whereas both training approaches were equally effective in men.

Key words: Football, physical fitness, aerobic, drill-based games

           Key Points
  • This study is the first to compare physical fitness adaptations between men and women concerning the use of small-sided games (SSG) and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) in soccer players.
  • Men in SSG groups appear to be more favored in improving jumping performance, acceleration, change of direction, and aerobic performance than women.
  • It is possible that HIIT is a more favorable training approach for ensuring a homogeneous level of adaptation in women.
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