The incidence and outcome of attempts to create perturbations in soccer
University of Wales
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Perturbations in soccer have been reliably identified (Hughes et al., 1997, 1998) as the skill elements that disrupt the regular stability of a match so that an advantageous situation may be achieved. Consequently perturbation analysis identifies the phases of a match that are most relevant to its outcome. The aims of this study were firstly to determine the frequency at which teams attempt to create perturbations when in possession and to establish the success rate of teams in converting their perturbation attempts into goal scoring opportunities, and then to identify how match situation can affect a team’s desire to create perturbations. An original hand notation system was designed specifically for this study which allowed for the identification of several related variables (pitch location, skill variable, player attempting perturbation and outcome of successful perturbations). Eight games involving a specific Coca-Cola League One team from the 2007/2008 season were analysed. Results indicated that teams attempted to turn on average 14.76% of their possession into perturbations. It was found that success rate of perturbations attempts was an indicator of successful performance, though significantly more perturbation attempts were unsuccessful than successful (Z = 2.371, P < 0.05). Results regarding match situation were somewhat inconclusive, although once a team had established a lead both the winning and losing team increased the rate at which they attempted to create perturbations. By identifying the related perturbation variables it was possible to give teams specific attacking profiles, which could be utilised by coaches to predict how future opponents may play and to maximise successful performance within their own team.
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