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Thursday 1 May 2014

Student spotlight: Phil Keehne

Final year BSc (Hons) Applied Sports Science student Phil Keehne talks about his study on the role technology plays in influencing football training.

Whilst studying for my Applied Sport Science degree, I have also been involved in professional football at two different championship and premier league clubs. I now intend to pursue a career as a sports scientist in football.

During this exciting time I took notice of the crucial role that technology plays in providing data about players’ training loads in the build up to competition. With the growth of global positioning systems (GPS) and heart rate monitoring within football, I developed a keen interest in the data outputs obtained from specific football drills, such as small-sided games (SSG).


Football coaches and sports scientist now use GPS and heart rate data to plan the training week in relation to attaining specific data values per drill. However, research fails to document the actual reliability of prescribing small-sided games (SSG) and gaining the prescribed player loads per session.

Therefore, my research focused on determining the reliability of GPS data outputs when undertaking a 5v5 SSG using different dimensions (30x25m, 38x30m, and 46x35m). 10 semi-professional football players recruited from Team Solent FC participated in the study. The results from the study suggest that practitioners working in football can use SSGs to prescribe training intensity with the following GPS data outputs:

  • Total distance covered
  • Average heart rate
  • Player load
  • Distance covered 0-6.9 km.h-1

However, they can’t prescribe training intensity via distance covered within high intensity activity zones with speed greater than 7 km.h-1. Research suggests this may be due to the high intensity demands of SSG inducing local muscular fatigue in relation to determining acceptable levels of reliability.