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Network of football players: Comparison between different competitive levels and tactical positions

Clemente, F.M.C. ; Martins, F. ; Mendes, R.

Research Journal of Applied Sciences Vol. 11, Nº 5, pp. 1 - 14, May, 2016.

ISSN (print): 1815-932X
ISSN (online): 1993-6079

Journal Impact Factor: 0,135 (in 2015)

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Abstract
Purpose: The collective organization of football teams during attacking process is determined by the passing sequence. Using the social network analysis, this study aimed to characterize the centrality players in the passing sequences in different competitive levels. Methods: Fifty-one players from five different competitive levels (U12, U14, U16, U18, Amateurs) voluntarily participated in this study. Results: The two-way MANOVA revealed that the competitive level (λ = 0.837; F = 12.376; p = 0.001; η_p^2= 0.279; small effect size) and tactical position (λ = 1.328; F = 25.419; p = 0.001; η_p^2= 0.443; moderate effect size) had significant main effects on the network centrality measures. Conclusions: It was found that in younger stages, the external defender and central midfielder assumes higher values of centrality. It was also found that central-midfielder is the prominent tactical position in all competitive levels.

Keywords: Graph theory; Adjacency matrix; Match Analysis; Football; Network; Centrality; Passes.