Impact Factor 2.323

The 1st most cited journal in Multidisciplinary Psychology

Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00389

Polar coordinate analysis of relationships with teammates, areas of the pitch, and dynamic play in soccer: A study of Xabi Alonso

  • 1Pontifical University of Salamanca, Spain

Research in soccer has traditionally focused on very specific aspects of the game, such as technical and physiological aspects, and has largely ignored important issues such as tactical performance and the role of individual players within the team. The aim of this study was to study the different relationships that Xabi Alonso, one of the world’s best midfielders, establishes with his teammates during offensive play, and to investigate his connections with the pitch in terms of where his direct interventions started and finished, his use of technical actions, his involvement in set plays and interceptions, and his relationship with shots at goal. To do this, we analyzed all the matches played by the winner of the 2012 UEFA European Championship: Spain. We employed an observational methodology design (Anguera, 1979) using a modified version of the ad hoc soccer observation instrument designed by Amatria, Lapresa, Arana, Anguera, and Garzón (2016). The resulting data were analyzed by polar coordinate analysis (Gorospe & Anguera, 2000), which is a powerful data reduction technique with high predictive power. The results showed significant associations (>1.96= p>.05) between Alonso and players in different positions, a wide sphere of influence on the pitch, both for the start and end of interventions, and a strong link with game interruptions and interceptions and with the use of different technical actions. No significant associations were detected for type of shot. Studies on tactical performance that take account of the multiple factors involved in soccer will lead to better decision-making by coaches and facilitate analysis of a player’s true performance.

Keywords: performance analysis, Observational methodology, Soccer, polar coordinates, Xabi Alonso

Received: 27 Oct 2017; Accepted: 08 Mar 2018.

Edited by:

Salvador Chacón-Moscoso, Universidad de Sevilla, Spain

Reviewed by:

Wolfgang Rauch, Universität Heidelberg, Germany
Constantino Arce, Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, Spain  

Copyright: © 2018 Maneiro Dios and Amatria Jiménez. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Rubén Maneiro Dios, Pontifical University of Salamanca, Salamanca, Spain,