Possession Lengths in the English Football Championship
University of Wales Institute Cardiff
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In soccer, possession of the ball has been linked with success, however little research has been afforded to its determinants. Using data from Swansea City’s 2008-2009 English Football League Championship. 8 matches were analysed using a hand notation system and analysis took place in SPSS (SPSS 17.0, SPSS Inc, Chicago, Illinois). In particular, five variables were examined: match status (i.e. whether the team was winning, losing or drawing), match opponents (i.e. whether opponents were higher or lower in the final league standings), match location (i.e. playing at home or away), match half (i.e. first half or second half) and outcome of possession (i.e. goal or a shot). Analysis showed if these five variables were statistically significant to possession length (i.e. number of passes in a possession). The findings showed Swansea City had longer possession when they were losing rather than winning or drawing, also Swansea City had longer possession when playing away rather than home. Possession lengths increased whilst playing teams higher in league status. However, there was no significant difference between possession length and halves. The findings of the study highlighted a number of variables that could explain possession lengths in soccer. This suggests possession should be looked at from all angles and not only be investigated regarding goals scored. A combination of these variables could predict possession lengths and outcomes in soccer
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