Variability of inter-team distances associated with match events in elite-standard soccer

Wouter Frencken, Harjo J. de Poel, Chris Visscher, Koen Lemmink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In soccer, critical match events like goal attempts can be preceded by periods of instability in the balance between the two teams' behaviours. Therefore, we determined periods of high variability in the distance between the teams' centroid positions longitudinally and laterally in an international-standard soccer match and evaluated corresponding match events. Position data were collected with AMISCO Pro®. Inter-team distance variability was calculated over a 3-s moving window. Out of the 242 match periods that exceeded the variability criterion, 51 were dead-ball situations. Match events identified through longitudinal inter-team distance primarily related to defending players moving forward-backward after a longitudinal pass. Match events identified through lateral inter-team distance mainly corresponded with defending players moving laterally following sideways passing. One of two goals and two of fourteen goal-attempts were preceded by a period of high variability. Together, periods of highly variable inter-team distance were associated with collective defensive actions and team reorganisation in dead-ball moments rather than goals or goal attempts. Inter-team dynamics quantified (mutual) reorganisation of the teams and marked teams' collective defensive ability to respond to attacking explorations. doi: 10.1080/02640414.2012.703783
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1207-1213
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Sports Sciences
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2012


  • dynamic systems
  • tactical skills
  • performance
  • team sport
  • game analysis


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