The impact of visual occlusion during small-sided games on youth football players

Main Article Content

Giovanni Esposito


This study aimed to investigate the effects of playing with visual occlusion (OCC) during small-sided games (SSG) performed under different pitch sizes on youth players' physical and technical performance. The purpose was to understand how visual occlusion may influence players' behaviour and performance in game-based scenarios. Thirty youth football players from a U14 football academy participated in the study. The design involved a repeated-measures approach, with players exposed to different experimental conditions: normal situation (NOR) without OCC; OCC with an eye patch on the dominant foot's corresponding eye. The SSGs were performed on both small and large pitch sizes. Time-motion variables were computed using positional data, and technical analysis was based on video footage. A repeated measures analysis of variance was conducted to identify differences in the considered variables between the conditions. Although no significant effects were found in technical performance between NOR and OCC conditions, suggesting adaptability to OCC constraints, some trends were observed. Increasing pitch size in the NOR scenario led to higher physical demands and more touches with the dominant foot, while smaller pitches led to an increase in the number of passes. Larger pitches with OCC increased physical demands. Players tended to use their non-dominant foot more in smaller pitches with OCC. Furthermore, OCC in larger pitches significantly reduced the game pace, movements, and dribbling frequency, allowing more time for decision-making based on environmental information. Playing with visual occlusion may impact players' behaviour and performance, leading to adjustments in the use of dominant and non-dominant feet.


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How to Cite
Esposito, G. (2024). The impact of visual occlusion during small-sided games on youth football players. Journal of Human Sport and Exercise , 19(3), 882-890.
Author Biography

Giovanni Esposito, University of Salerno

Department of Human, Philosophical and Educational Sciences.

How to Cite

Esposito, G. (2024). The impact of visual occlusion during small-sided games on youth football players. Journal of Human Sport and Exercise , 19(3), 882-890.


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