Small-sided games

Small-sided games are a great way of incorporating specificity into the training programme. Small-sided games are essentially intense games which simulate the movement patterns, technical and tactical skills of rugby (Hoffman et al, 2014; Vaz et al, 2016). Player numbers and pitch dimensions are reduced by various amounts depending on the training stimulus the coach is trying to achieve. The rules of the game can also be manipulated to achieve the desired training stress. Small-sided games have grown in popularity as they are a way to work on skills and conditioning at the same time. Eight weeks of small sided games twice a week has been shown to improve sprint and endurance performance in rugby players which shows it can be an effective training method for conditioning (Seitz et al, 2014).

Whilst it has been shown that small sided games will provide physiological adaptations to improve conditioning, these adaptations are governed by the constraints the coach puts on the games (Vaz et al 2016). The coach can, for example, change the pitch size, number of players or rules of the game to make it more skill dominant or more conditioning dominant. This would obviously affect the physiological conditioning adaptation for the players.