This article is partly inspired by a conversation I had with Jamon Moore regarding our Where Goals Come From series on American Soccer Analysis – As we move into season two of the project, we wanted to more closely link xG to our progressive passing model: Something which anyone with even a passing interest in analytics will be aware of. Our discussion involved a look at an article written by ModernFitba (RIP) three years ago now regarding Miles Storey – Then of Partick Thistle, and now plying his trade for Inverness. To sum it up (you should read it too, of course) Jason talks about Expected Conversion Rate, a metric of xG divided by shots (unblocked ones) – Essentially what % of shots should have found the back of the net. Unblocked shots can be additionally measured with “Fenwick-adjusted” Expected Conversion rate, a hockey concept, but that’s neither the time nor place for that.Read More
Within the game, physical preparation is essential and the first step of on-field practice both in training and matches. Whilst the on-field performance from a tactical perspective is heavily looked at, this article will explore how the warm up both in training and for matches can contribute to on-field success. This is part 1 of an article series as to how the warm up in football can be broken down, with this article analysing the fundamental principles to help maximise the movement efficiency of the players. Subsequently, a greater efficiency of the players’ movement, the better they are able to execute tactical movements, such as utilising hip rotation to switch the play and create overloads and so forth. This article will further underpin the execution of the warm up from the perspective of the practitioner, introducing motivational psychology theory and the terminology of “football coaching philosophy”.Read More
Out of possession, the 4-4-2 is perhaps the most traditional and common shape used in football. While teams and managers are always looking to be innovative and find new and exciting approaches to defending – solutions that offer unique styles of proactive defending in different shapes and different heights, many teams in professional football are reverting back to the 4-4-2. The renaissance of the 4-4-2 has seen clubs such as Juventus, Manchester United, Manchester City, Tottenham and many other top sides rely on this shape out of possession, though each club has their own way of utilizing it.Read More
Fundamentally, football is a game that consists of 11 players on either team. The team in possession will usually have an 11v10 situation outfield, as the defending team’s goalkeeper can be excluded as they will look to stay in goal. As the teams organise in their respective structures, situations will arise in different areas of the pitch. For each situation, we can look to assign numerical values to each team depending on how many players they have within the situation that can be considered ‘active’. A player who is said to be ‘active’ is one which is either looking to make themselves directly available to a player in possession (for the team in possession) or looking to close off a pass (for the team not in possession). However, the space for interpretation of which players are considered active in the situation opens the potential to vary how we look at each situation. For instance, a player on the ball-far side of the pitch could be in space, available to receive a pass. For the purposes of defining the numerical values for the number of players in each situation, however, we should only look to consider players within a closer proximity to the player in possession. Doing so will allow us to determine areas of numerical superiority, equality, and inferiority. In this article, a standard 1-3-2-5 possession structure will be used against a 1-4-5-1 out of possession structure to demonstrate a variety of situations.Read More
November 12th, 2009: German international goalkeeper Robert Enke committed suicide. A world-class athlete who seemingly had everything going for him, but was battling for three points every day off the pitch. Enke’s tragic death has become a contributor to a higher awareness of mental health for those in football through the publishing of A Life too Short: The Tragedy of Robert Enke (2011) by Ronald Reng and the creation of The Robert Enke Foundation, a foundation committed to raising awareness of critical mental health issues. Enke is not the only player to suffer in this battle. Gianluigi Buffon, Andres Iniesta, and Aaron Lennon are just a few examples of players who have been vocal in their struggle. In recent years, an effort to remove the stigma has become more powerful, but we understand it is not always easy. Football is a results-based industry, the pressures faced are massive and we are usually unable to control most situations.
Whether you are a coach, analyst, or any other position related to on the pitch performance, there is a tough line on which to balance. How do you best develop the individual/team, and at the same time find success in the very basic goal of winning matches? While at youth levels it is commonly accepted that a winning culture should always take a back-seat, as you go up from these age grouped teams- the focus on on-the-pitch success becomes ramped up. However, how do you do both in the context of video analysis? How can you help coaches achieve their goals of winning matches in a high-pressure season, while also supporting the growth of the individual athlete – something which clearly helps the development of a success team dynamic. In my experience working with younger players, I have found the following steps to have been extremely beneficial in tackling these issues. Not every one of these will be applicable, but if you are able to find a balance you will drastically increase your output towards meeting these goals. Education through video analysis is the best way for players to gain the full picture about how you want them to do things when they eventually step onto the pitch. Making any sort of marginal gain in this aspect can be the difference between winning and losing, and seeing a player reach his full potential or not.Read More
“Juego de Posición”, translated to “Positional Play”, is a well-known possessional philosophy currently utilised by many of the top coaches. This concept has been adopted and adapted by the likes of Pep Guardiola and Julian Nagelsmann; however, certain fundamental principles remain constant. Positional play is centered on the efficiency of spacing between players in order to maximise the potential of the team in possession to progress the ball. To do so, predetermined zones are created by the coach followed by a set of “rules” that the players must follow when positioning themselves on the field. This article will explore the importance and reasoning behind the vertical zones, using Guardiola’s five zone set-up as the focus.Read More
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