The specificity principle of training, suggests that specific training methodologies should be employed to maximise the training effect. In other words, sprinters should employ sprint training to improve their performance etc.

When it comes to applying the specificity principle to soccer, this means that on-field football training provides the best method of training. Della et al. (2006) that a soccer-specific circuit develops aerobic power. Interestingly, highly specific tactical & physical performance training is now recommended as the preferred method among leading football federations including the English, French & Spanish federations. The following small-sided game suggestions are useful starting points in employing

  • 6 v 6 – 8 v 8: aerobic endurance capacity, solicits 85% of MHR, 40 * 30m pitch
  • 5 v 5: aerobic endurance capacity, solicits 85% of MHR, half-pitch (Hoff et al.)
  • 4 v 4: aerobic & anaerobic power, solicits 90-95% of MHR, 40 * 30m pitch
  • 3 v 3: aerobic & anaerobic power, solicits 90-95% of MHR (Rampinini et al.)
  • 1 v 1 & 2 v 2: anaerobic power, speed, acceleration & deceleration

Key points

 1 v 1 to 4 v 4 develop anaerobic power (with some aerobic crossover) while 6 v 6 to 11 v 11 develop maximum aerobic power and speed. Pitch size, the player:area ratio, use of goalkeepers or not, and specific tactical conditions imposed by the coach all have an impact on the physiological parameters trained.