Possession vs. Direct Play: Evaluating Tactical Behavior in Elite Soccer

Matthias Kempe, Martin Vogelbein, Daniel Memmert, Stephan Nopp

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

59 Citations (Scopus)


Measuring and evaluating tactical behavior is one of the main goals in performance analysis in professional soccer. A specific tactical approach may present the difference between winning and losing, especially in the highest level of competition. So fare tactical behavior is mostly determined by using one or two variables, like ball possession or number of passes. Within this study, we introduce a new index (Index of Offensive Behavior, IOB) that combines different variables of offensive actions to evaluate tactical behavior. To evaluate the indexes data of 676 official games (German Bundesliga 2009/10, & 2010/11, FIFA World Cup 2010) were analysed using the “MathBall”- notation software (Algorithma Ltd., 2009). IOB was able to reliable distinguish the two common tactical approaches in soccer: possession and direct play. Furthermore, we could show that successful teams prefer possession play and that game control (measured via Index of Game Control, IOC) is the most important variable of success irrespective of the tactical approach.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Journal of Sports Science
PublisherSpringer International Publishing AG
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)1303-2968
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Publication series

NameJournal of Nonverbal Behavior


  • Athletic Performance
  • Athletic Performance: psychology
  • Beliefs
  • Big data
  • Creativity
  • Deep learning
  • Dominance-Subordination
  • Emotion
  • Game intelligence
  • Game test-situation
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Index of Game Control
  • Index of Offensive Behavior
  • Kinesics
  • Machine learning
  • Male
  • Models
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Neural networks
  • Nonverbal
  • Power
  • Psychological
  • Quantified self
  • Simulation
  • Soccer
  • Soccer: psychology
  • Social Perception
  • Spatiotemporal data
  • Sports analytics
  • Sports performance
  • Stereotypes
  • Talent diagnostic
  • Talent program
  • aerobic capacity
  • big data
  • choking
  • component for success in
  • deep learning
  • ern elite soccer
  • fitness training
  • goalkeeper
  • high-level football
  • machine learning
  • mod-
  • neural networks
  • penalty shootout
  • penalty taker
  • performance analysis
  • performance indicators
  • quantified self
  • repeated sprint
  • simulation
  • spatiotemporal data
  • specific training
  • sports analytics
  • sports performance
  • style of play
  • tactical behavior
  • tactics
  • tactics are a central
  • team sports
  • there have been few
  • yet until recently

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