A study into the effect that two definitions of possession have on evolving match status
University of Wales Institute Cardiff
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This study recognises that there is a predefined idea of what constitutes a possession in soccer. There is much debate as to whether possession is a key factor in a team’s performance. Some propose that it has no effect (Stanhope, 2001) whilst others believe it is vital to success (James et al, 2004., Hook and Hughes, 2001., Grant et al, 1999 Bate, 1988.,). This study explored the effects of evolving match status on the two separate definitions of possession. When using definition 1 possession was deemed to start when the player had full control over the ball, if the opposition touched the ball but did not gain control of it then possession continued. When using definition 2 possession was deemed to start when a player on the analysed team had sufficient control over the ball. Possession continued until the ball either went out of play, an opposing player touched the ball. Swansea City were chosen as the team for analyses. Eight matches were analysed from the 2007/2008 season. It was hypothesised that definition one would have higher possession statistics and that the team would have highest average possession whilst losing. Results found that definition 1 had significantly higher average possessions and total possession when compared with definition 2. Evolving match status showed to have a significant effect on possession. Highest average was found whilst the team was winning which contradicted what was hypothesised. These findings contradicted the majority of work that has been done in this area. Finally, it was concluded that skill levels and league status were the main variables which may have caused the differences in the results of this study when compared with others. Further research may explore successful and unsuccessful teams in order to gain a better understanding of how evolving match status effects possession.
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