Team dynamics during transition moments in small-sided soccer games

Wouter Frencken, Mark Wijnbergen, Sigrid Olthof, Koen A.P.M. Lemmink

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractAcademic


Introduction: A large proportion of goals in soccer is scored after quick counter attacks. Moreover, according to dynamical systems theory goal-scoring opportunities are hypothesized to occur after perturbations of the rhythmic flow of attacking and defending. An imbalance in coupling between teams around transition moments may explain this phenomenon. The aim of this study was to compare team dynamics before and after transition moments with periods of regular play and to relate these to the outcome of transition moments. Methods: Fourteen young elite-standard male soccer players (age 18.4 ± 0.4 years) participated in this study. Eight games of five against five (four field players and a goalkeeper) were played on a 40x30m pitch. Positional data (GPS) was collected to calculate tactical team variables, including centroid position, inter-team distance, length and width. Correlations between teams’ variables were calculated. Results: Twenty-nine 7-second transition moments were included. Only correlations of the longitudinal centroid positions (t= -2.08, p < 0.05) and the lengths of the teams (t = -2.57, p < 0.05) were significantly higher during regular periods of play compared to transition moments. No differences were found between outcomes of transition moments. Conclusion: Findings indicate reduced coupling between teams in the longitudinal direction (i.e. from goal to goal) during transition moments when compared to periods of regular play in small-sided games. Although this indicates that team dynamics around transition moments differ from regular play, the outcome of a transition moment appears to depend on other factors.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2015
EventWorld Congress on Science and Football - Copenhagen, Denmark
Duration: 20-May-201523-May-2015


ConferenceWorld Congress on Science and Football
Abbreviated titleWCSF

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