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, 305 - 316   DOI:

Research article
Optimal Prescription for Superior Outcomes: A Comparative Analysis of Inter-Individual Variability in Adaptations to Small-Sided Games and Short Sprint Interval Training in Young Basketball Players
Haoming Xu1,2, Junyi Song1,2, , Guoxing Li1, Hengtong Wang1
Author Information
1 School of Sports Training, Guangzhou Sport University, Guangzhou, China
2 Graduate School, Guangzhou Sport University, Guangzhou, China

Junyi Song
✉ School of Sports Training, Guangzhou Sport University, Guangzhou, 510500, China
Publish Date
Received: 22-12-2023
Accepted: 19-03-2024
Published (online): 01-06-2024

This study compared the inter-individual variability in adaptive responses to six weeks of small-sided games (SSG) and short sprint interval training (sSIT) in young basketball players. Thirty well-trained young athletes (age: 16.4 ± 0.6 years; stature: 190 ± 8.4 cm; weight: 84.1 ± 8.2 kg) voluntarily participated and were randomly assigned to SSG (3 sets of 5 min 3v3 on full length (28 m) and half-width (7.5 m) court, with 2 minutes of passive recovery in-between), sSIT (3 sets of 12 × 5 s sprinting with 20 s recovery between efforts and 2 min of rest between sets), or CON (routine basketball-specific technical and tactical drills) groups, each of ten. Before and after the training period, participants underwent a series of laboratory- and field-based measurements to evaluate their maximum oxygen uptake (V̇O2max), first and second ventilatory threshold (VT1 and VT2), oxygen pulse, peak and average power output (PPO and APO), linear speed, change of direction (COD), countermovement jump (CMJ), and vertical jump (VJ). Both SSG and sSIT sufficiently stimulated adaptive mechanisms involved in enhancement of the mentioned variables (p < 0.05). However, sSIT resulted in lower residuals in percent changes in V̇O2max (p = 0.02), O2pulse (p = 0.005), VT1 (p = 0.001), PPO (p = 0.03), and linear speed (p = 0.01) across athletes compared to the SSG. Moreover, sSIT resulted in more responders than SSG in V̇O2max (p = 0.02, φ = 0.500), O2pulse (p = 0.003, φ = 0.655), VT1 (p = 0.003, φ = 0.655), VT2 (p = 0.05, φ = 0.436), and linear speed (p = 0.05, φ = 0.420). Our results indicate that sSIT creates a more consistent level of mechanical and physiological stimulus than SSG, potentially leading to more similar adaptations across team members.

Key words: Team sport, sport-specific intervention, physical conditioning, athletic performance, aerobic fitness, bio-motor abilities

           Key Points
  • Both SSG and sSIT protocols sufficiently stimulate adaptive mechanisms to enhance the mean group values of cardiorespiratory fitness and bio-motor abilities. Basketball coaches and players have the flexibility to choose either protocol based on the specific training mode.
  • Short-duration sprint interval training generates a uniform stimulus compared to Small-Sided Games through lowering residuals in the magnitude of the adaptations and coefficient of variations.
  • Such an approach potentially resulting in more comparable physiological demands and more homogenous adaptations among team members.
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