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Sports 2017, 5(1), 20;

Detection and Selection of Behavioral Patterns Using Theme: A Concrete Example in Grassroots Soccer

Department of Physical Activity Sciences and Sports, Pontifical University of Salamanca, 37007 Salamanca, Spain
Department of Educational Sciences, University of La Rioja, 26004 Logroño, Spain
Department of Education, International University of La Rioja (UNIR), 26006 Logroño, Spain
Faculty of Psychology, University of Barcelona, 08035 Barcelona, Spain
Human Behavior Laboratory, University of Iceland, 107 Reykjavík, Iceland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Filipe Manuel Clemente
Received: 30 December 2016 / Revised: 28 February 2017 / Accepted: 7 March 2017 / Published: 13 March 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Performance in Soccer)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [10315 KB, uploaded 13 March 2017]   |  


Observational methodology provides a rigorous yet flexible framework for capturing behaviors over time to allow for the performance of subsequent diachronic analyses of the data captured. Theme is a specialized software program that detects hidden temporal behavioral patterns (T-patterns) within data sets. It is increasingly being used to analyze performance in soccer and other sports. The aim of this study was to show how to select and interpret T-patterns generated by the application of three “quantitative” sort options in Theme and three “qualitative” filters established by the researchers. These will be used to investigate whether 7-a-side (F7) or 8-a-side (F8) soccer is best suited to the learning and skills development needs of 7- and 8-year-old male soccer players. The information contained in the T-patterns generated allowed us to characterize patterns of play in children in this age group. For both formats, we detected technical-tactical behaviors showing that children of this age have difficulty with first-touch actions and controlling the ball after a throw-in. We also found that ball control followed by a pass or a shot at the goal are common in the central corridor of the pitch. Further, depth of play is achieved by ball control, followed by dribbling and a pass or shot. In F8, we saw that depth of play was achieved through ball control, followed by dribbling and passing of one or more opponents leading to a pass or shot. However, in F7, we saw that players succeeded in advancing from their goal area to the rival goal area through a sequence of actions. View Full-Text
Keywords: soccer; technical-tactical performance; T-patterns; theme; observational methodology soccer; technical-tactical performance; T-patterns; theme; observational methodology

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Amatria, M.; Lapresa, D.; Arana, J.; Anguera, M.T.; Jonsson, G.K. Detection and Selection of Behavioral Patterns Using Theme: A Concrete Example in Grassroots Soccer. Sports 2017, 5, 20.

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