Possession as a performance indicator in soccer.

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In soccer, the ability to retain possession of the ball for prolonged periods of time has been linked to success (Hook and Hughes, 2001). The accuracy of this assertion was investigated by comparing 24 matches involving successful and unsuccessful English premier league teams within the 2001-2002 season. Specifically the teams' possessions were analysed depending on evolving match status i.e.whether the team was winning, losing or drawing. All possessions less than 3 seconds in duration were removed from the data as they were not deemed to include significant events pertaining to a teams' strategy. Successful teams were found to have significantly longer possessions than unsuccessful teams irrespective of match status i.e.winning (p<0.01), losing (p<0.05) and drawing (p<0.01). However both successful and unsuccessful teams had longer durations of possession when they were losing matches compared to when winning. It was concluded that within elite English football possession is related to successful performance but it is likely this is down to differences in individual player's skill levels rather than specific team strategy.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2004

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