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Network measures and digraph theory applied to soccer analysis: Midfielder is the key player in youth teams

Oliveira, P. ; Clemente, F.M.C. ; Martins, F.

Journal of Physical Education and Sport Vol. 16, Nº 2, pp. 1023 - 1028, September, 2016.

ISSN (print): 1582-8131
ISSN (online): 2066-2483

Journal Impact Factor: (in )

Digital Object Identifier: 10.7752/jpes.2016.s2162

Abstract
Graph and digraph theories have been used to test the relationships between teammates and the network properties of team sports. Nevertheless, no studies in young soccer teams have been found, as far we know. For that reason, the aim of this study was to use the social network techniques to analyse the prominence levels of young soccer players during official matches and analyse the variance between tactical positions and tactical line-ups. Seventy young soccer players form under-10 competitive level were observed from 10 matches. Significant statistical differences were found between players’ positions in IDC (p = 0.001; ES = 0.090; minimum effect); ODC (p = 0.001; ES = 0.156; minimum effect); and BC (p = 0.001; ES = 0.110; minimum effect) variables. No significant statistical differences were found between 1-3-2-1 and 1-2-3-1 line-ups for %IDC (p = 0.113; ES = 0.056; minimum effect), %ODC (p = 0.126; ES = 0.048; minimum effect) and %BC (p = 0.204; ES = 0.035; minimum effect). This study found that midfielder is the key position on the field, being a linkage player to attacking building.
Keywords: applied mathematics; graph theory; social network analysis; performance analysis; football.