Journal of Human Sport and Exercise

Positioning and displacement patterns of young players during 5v5, 7v7, 9v9, and 11v11 soccer matches

Ângelo Brito, Paulo Roriz, Júlio Garganta


This study aimed to analyse the effect of game format and age-group on positioning and displacement of soccer players (age ranging from 6.94 ± 0.7 to 13.46 ± 0.5 years; height ranging from 125.36 ± 6.04 to 159.16 ± 7.78 cm; weight ranging from 27.16 ± 5.75 to 49.89 ± 8.89 kg). Linear and non-linear analyses were used to capture the spatial distribution variability and relative positioning of the players during soccer matches. Variables were assessed using global positioning system technology. Results suggest significant effect of the game formats in spatial distribution variability (η2 = .142, p < .001) and relative positioning (η2 = .926; p < .001) of the players. The variability decreased and mean covered area increased as game format increased. There also was a significant effect of the age-group in spatial distribution variability (η2 = .120, p < .001) and relative positioning (η2 = .405; p < .001). The U10 age-group presented significantly higher values than other age-groups (p < .001). These findings can provide an opportunity for coaches and governmental bodies to maximise the efficiency of the soccer matches conditions.


Movement variability; Spatial distribution maps; Performance analysis; Tactical demands; Team sport


Aguiar, M., Gonçalves, B., Botelho, G., Lemmink, K., & Sampaio, J. (2015). Footballers' movement behaviour during 2-, 3-, 4- and 5-a-side small-sided games. Journal of Sports Sciences, 33(12), 1259-1266.

Ajamil, D., Idiakez, J., & Echevarría, B. (2006). El futbol 9 com alternativa al futbol 11, a partir de l’estudi de la utilització de l’espai de joc. Apunts. Educació física i esports, 4(86), 34-44.

Ajamil, D. L., Idiakez, J. A., Urray, J. U., & Echevarría, B. G. (2009). Análisis comparativo de la acción ofensiva en F-7 y F-8, en la categoría alevín. Retos: nuevas tendencias en educación física, deporte y recreación (16), 97-103.

Bangsbo, J. (1994). The physiology of soccer-with special reference to intense intermittent exercise. Acta Physiologica Scandinavica. Supplementum, 619, 1-155.

Bartlett, R., Button, C., Robins, M., Dutt-Mazumder, A., & Kennedy, G. (2012). Analysing team coordination patterns from player movement trajectories in soccer: Methodological considerations. International Journal of Performance Analysis in Sport, 12(2), 398-424.

Bathke, A. C., Schabenberger, O., Tobias, R. D., & Madden, L. V. (2009). Greenhouse-Geisser Adjustment and the ANOVA-Type Statistic: Cousins or Twins? American Statistician, 63(3), 239-246.

Bradley, P., Carling, C., Archer, D., Roberts, J., Dodds, A., Di Mascio, M., . . . Krustrup, P. (2011). The effect of playing formation on high-intensity running and technical profiles in English FA Premier League soccer matches. Journal of Sports Sciences, 29(8), 821-830.

Brito, Â., Duarte, R., Diniz, A., Maia, J., & Garganta, J. (2017). The game variants in Europe. Trends and perspectives during youth competitive stages. Motriz: Revista de Educação Física, 23 (3).

Brito, Â., Roriz, P., Duarte, R., & Garganta, J. (2018). Match-running performance of young soccer players in different game formats. International Journal of Performance Analysis in Sport, 18(3), 410-422.

Capranica, L., Tessitore, A., Guidetti, L., & Figura, F. (2001). Heart rate and match analysis in pre-pubescent soccer players. Journal of Sports Sciences, 19(6), 379-384.

Casamichana, D., & Castellano, J. (2010). Time–motion, heart rate, perceptual and motor behaviour demands in small-sides soccer games: Effects of pitch size. Journal of Sports Sciences, 28(14), 1615-1623.

Castellano, J., Puente, A., Echeazarra, I., Usabiaga, O., & Casamichana, D. (2016). Number of players and relative pitch area per player: Comparing their influence on heart rate and physical demands in Under-12 and Under-13 football players. PLoS ONE, 11(1), e0127505.

Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (2nd ed.). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Couceiro, M. S., Clemente, F. M., Martins, F. M. L., & Machado, J. A. (2014). Dynamical stability and predictability of football players: The study of one match. Entropy, 16(2), 645-674.

Coutts, A. J., & Duffield, R. (2010). Validity and reliability of GPS devices for measuring movement demands of team sports. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 13(1), 133-135.

Cummins, C., Orr, R., O’Connor, H., & West, C. (2013). Global positioning systems (GPS) and microtechnology sensors in team sports: A systematic review. Sports Medicine, 43(10), 1025-1042.

Davids, K., Glazier, P., Araújo, D., & Bartlett, R. (2003). Movement systems as dynamical systems: The functional role of variability and its implications for sports medicine. Sports Medicine (Auckland, N.Z.), 33(4), 245-260.

Duarte, R., Araújo, D., Correia, V., & Davids, K. (2012). Sports teams as superorganisms: Implications of sociobiological models of behaviour for research and practice in team sports performance analysis. Sports Medicine (Auckland, N.Z.), 42(8), 633-642.

Fernandez-Navarro, J., Fradua, L., Zubillaga, A., Ford, P. R., & McRobert, A. P. (2016). Attacking and defensive styles of play in soccer: analysis of Spanish and English elite teams. Journal of Sports Sciences, 34(24), 2195-2204.

Gagné, F. (2000). Understanding the complex choreography of talent development through DMGT-based analysis (F. J. M. K. A. Heller, R. J. Sternberg, & R. Subotnik (Eds). Oxford, Pergamon Press: International handbook for research on giftedness and talent.

Garganta, J. (2008). Modelação táctica em jogos desportivos: A desejável cumplicidade entre a pesquisa, treino e competição. In: Tavares F, Graça A, Garganta J, et al., eds. Olhares e Contextos da Performance nos Jogos Desportivos. Porto: Faculdade de Desporto da Universidade do Porto.

Gray, A. J., Jenkins, D., Andrews, M. H., Taaffe, D. R., & Glover, M. L. (2010). Validity and reliability of GPS for measuring distance travelled in field-based team sports. Journal of Sports Sciences, 28(12), 1319-1325.

Gréhaigne, J., Godbout, P., & Zerai, Z. (2011). How the "rapport de forces" evolves in a soccer match: The dynamics of collective decisions in a complex system. Revista de Psicología del Deporte, 20(2), 747-765.

Idiakez, J., Ajamil, D., Echevarría, B., & Marín, A. (2004). La alternativa del Fútbol 9 para el primer año de la categoría infantil (U. d. l. Rioja. Ed.). Logroño: Universidad de la Rioja.

Lapresa, D., Arana, J., Anguera, M. T., & Garzón, B. (2013). Comparative analysis of sequentiality using SDIS-GSEQ and THEME: A concrete example in soccer. Journal of Sports Sciences, 31(15), 1687-1695.

Lapresa, D., Arana, J., Garzón, E., Egüén, R., & Amatria, M. (2010). Adaptando la competición en la iniciación al fútbol: Estudio comparativo de las modalidades de fútbol 3 y fútbol 5 en categoría prebenjamín. Apunts, 101, 43-56.

Memmert, D., Lemmink, K., & Sampaio, J. (2017). Current approaches to tactical performance analyses in soccer using position data. Sports Medicine, 47(1), 1-10.

Nicolella, D. P., Torres-Ronda, L., Saylor, K. J., & Schelling, X. (2018). Validity and reliability of an accelerometer-based player tracking device. PLoS ONE, 13(2), e0191823.

Ric, A., Torrents, C., Gonçalves, B., Torres-Ronda, L., Sampaio, J., & Hristovski, R. (2017). Dynamics of tactical behaviour in association football when manipulating players' space of interaction. PLoS ONE, 12(7), 1-16.

Sampaio, J., & Maçãs, V. (2012). Measuring tactical behaviour in football. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 33(5), 395-401.

Shannon, C. E. (1948). A mathematical theory of communication. The Bell System Technical Journal, 27, 623.

Siegle, M., Cordes, O., Ertmer, J., Augste, C., Kirchlechner, B., von Hoyningen-Huene, N., . . . Lames, M. (2008). Positionsdynamische modellierung zur situations-und spieleridentifikation im fußball. Sportspielkulturen Erfolgreich Gestalten-von der Trainerbank bis in die Schulklasse, 199-202.

Silva, P., Aguiar, P., Duarte, R., Davids, K., Araújo, D., & Garganta, J. (2014). Effects of pitch size and skill level on tactical behaviours of Association Football players during small-sided and conditioned games. International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching, 9(5), 993-1006.

Silva, P., Chung, D., Carvalho, T., Cardoso, T., Davids, K., Araújo, D., & Garganta, J. (2016). Practice effects on intra-team synergies in football teams. Human Movement Science, 46, 39-51.

Silva, P., Esteves, P., Correia, V., Davids, K., Araújo, D., & Garganta, J. (2015). Effects of manipulations of player numbers vs. field dimensions on inter-individual coordination during small-sided games in youth football. International Journal of Performance Analysis in Sport, 15(2), 641-659.

Silva, P., Travassos, B., Vilar, L., Aguiar, P., Davids, K., Araújo, D., & Garganta, J. (2014). Numerical relations and skill level constrain co-adaptive behaviors of agents in sports teams. PLoS ONE, 9(9), e107112.

Sinnott, R. W. (1984). Sky and telescope. Virtues of the Haversine, 68(2), 159.

Stiles, V. H., James, I. T., Dixon, S. J., & Guisasola, I. N. (2009). Natural turf surfaces: The case for continued research. Sports Medicine, 39(1), 65-84.

Tessitore, A., Perroni, F., Meeusen, R., Cortis, C., Lupo, C., & Capranica, L. (2012). Heart rate responses and technical-tactical aspects of official 5-a-side youth soccer matches played on clay and artificial turf. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 26(1), 106-112.

Vaeyens, R., Lenoir, M., Williams, A. M., & Philippaerts, R. M. (2008). Talent identification and development programmes in sport : Current models and future directions. Sports Medicine (Auckland, N.Z.), 38(9), 703-714.

Yue, Z., Broich, H., Seifriz, F., & Mester, J. (2008). Mathematical analysis of a soccer game. Part I: Individual and collective behaviors. Studies in Applied Mathematics, 121(3), 223-243.


Copyright (c) 2018 Journal of Human Sport and Exercise

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.