Modelling winning performance in invasive team games

Potter, Gareth Wyn (1998). Modelling winning performance in invasive team games. PhD thesis The Open University.



This study reports a four-year investigation into winning performance in invasive team games. The aims of the study were; to identify patterns of winning performance in two invasive team games (Aim 1); and to propose a generic model of winning performance in these games (Aim 2). Four research questions were derived from these aims: Can data gathered by real-time notation systems be used to develop a model for coaches and performers of winning performance?; Do winning teams in rugby union or association football exhibit any observable patterns of behaviour?; Is it possible to profile performances of winning teams in invasive games as an ‘ideal type’?; Is it possible to construct a predictive model of winning performance in invasive team games?

Data were collected by real-time hand and computer notation systems from 105 international fixtures (52 rugby union games and 53 association football games). The systems used underwent rigorous validity and reliability checks and were found to be valid and reliable research instruments.

Data from the two sports were subjected to thirty investigations (16 for rugby union and 14 for association football) in order to identify patterns of winning behaviour. This behaviour was then presented as an ideal type model of winning in rugby union and association football. Whilst it was acknowledged that within-game and within-sport differences rendered the modelling of performance difficult, it was proposed that some extraneous factors, some key performance areas and some scoring characteristics could be combined to provide an ideal type of winning. A limited, generic model of winning in an invasive game was also proposed.

It is concluded that an ideal type model sensitive to quantitative and qualitative data can be constructed for winning performance. It is noted that the spirit of ideal type modelling is sensitive to the dynamic interplay of structural components of games playing and individual action and virtuosity.

Directions for future research are identified.

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