Affect of Training Area and Sparring Partners in Taekwondo

Changing the spatial characteristics of a sporting environment may change the demands on the athlete, and potentially influence the outcome of the competition. Specific reduced competition size training drills (i.e. small-sided games in soccer) have long been utilized as a training means in other sports.

Researchers in Italy compared the physiological (heart rate, blood lactate) and psychological (mood states questionnaire, RPE) responses of match-simulation sparring sessions between 24 competitive junior taekwondo athletes, in a standard 8x8m fighting area to 6x6m and 4x4m fighting areas. A second aspect of the study compared the same responses in matches with 1 sparring partner compared to alternating partners.

Although heart rate was lower in the 2-1 condition, blood lactate levels were higher. These physiological measures were not, however, dependent on fight area size. 

Scores of tension and fatigue were higher for 6 × 6 m compared with 8 × 8 m, and anger was higher in 6 × 6 m and 8 × 8 m compared with 4 × 4 m. 

Coaches can utilise the differences in response to both training area and partner change to elicit a different physiological response, or to help recreate a similar mood state to that encountered in competition.

  1. Ouergui I, Ardigò L, Selmi O, Chtourou H, Bouassida A, Franchini E, et al. Psycho-physiological aspects of small combats in taekwondo: impact of area size and within-round sparring partners. Biol Sport. 38(2):157–164.

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