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Using network metrics to investigate football team players connections: A pilot study

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

Motriz. Revista de Educacao Fisica Vol. 20, Nº 4, pp. 1 - 30, November, 2014.

ISSN (print): 1415-9805
ISSN (online): 1980-6574

Journal Impact Factor: 0,086 (in 2012)

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The aim of this pilot study was propose a set of network methods to measure the specific properties of the teams. These metrics were organised on ‘meso’ and ‘micro’ analysis levels. Five official matches of the same team on the First Portuguese Football League were analysed. An overall of 577 offensive plays were analysed from the five matches. From the adjacency matrices developed per each offensive play it were computed the scaled connectivity, the clustering coefficient and the centroid significance and centroid conformity. Results showed that the highest values of scaled connectivity were found in lateral defenders and central and midfielder players and the lowest values were found in the striker and goalkeeper. The highest values of clustering coefficient were generally found in midfielders and forwards. In addition, the centroid results showed that lateral and central defenders tend to be the centroid players in the attacking process. In sum, this study showed that network metrics can be a powerful tool to help coaches to understanding the specific team’s properties, thus supporting decision-making and improving sports training based on match analysis.
Keywords: Match Analysis; Football; Network; Metrics; Performance.