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Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01019

Gaining or Losing Team Ball Possession: The Dynamics of Momentum Perception and Strategic Choice in Football Coaches

  • 1Qatar University, Qatar
  • 2University of Valenciennes and Hainaut-Cambresis, France

Grounded in the dynamical systems approach, the present research examined the influence of team ball possession (TBP) in soccer on coaches’ perceived psychological momentum (PM) and strategic choice (i.e., game-based “stick” vs. “switch” choices) during a simulated match. Experienced soccer coaches imagined being the coach of the team involved in a highly important match that was displayed on a wall in a lecture hall. The match scenario was manipulated so that the coach was exposed to either a positive momentum sequence (i.e., ascending scenario of TBP) or a negative momentum sequence (i.e., descending scenario of TBP). Results revealed that positive (or negative) momentum sequence increased (or decreased) perceived PM and increased stick (or switch) choices. Perceived PM globally evolved linearly, while strategic choice displayed a dynamical pattern of “critical boundary” (thus showing a nonlinear change). Nonetheless, both variables displayed asymmetrical effects, in the sense that: (a) the strength of positive PM appeared to be easier to decrease than to increase; and (b) the greater the positive PM (or the negative PM) the lesser (or the greater) the coaches’ tendency to make a change in the organization of their teams. This investigation evidences that TBP can powerfully influence coaches’ perceptions and strategic decisions, and that coaches are more likely to be sensitive to negative events and to equivalent positive events.

Keywords: dynamics, Momentum, strategy, Coaches, Football (soccer)

Received: 05 Dec 2018; Accepted: 16 Apr 2019.

Edited by:

Markus Raab, German Sport University Cologne, Germany

Reviewed by:

David Broadbent, Brunel University London, United Kingdom
Timothy L. Hubbard, Arizona State University, United States  

Copyright: © 2019 Briki and Zoudji. 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(s) 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. Walid Briki, Qatar University, Doha, Qatar, wbriki@qu.edu.qa