Why Analysis By Positional Groups Is Becoming More Common

By Duncan Ritchie

29-September-2022 on Tips

9 minute read

Over the last decade or so, the work of the analyst has grown exponentially to the point that, in modern soccer, there is very little that escapes their analysis. The distance covered by the player, how they strike the ball, or any other parameter can be examined by the analyst. 


Basically, any information that the coach needs, the analyst provides.


As a result of this evolution, new trends constantly appear, such as the one we’re going to talk about in this article. We’ve noticed that more and more analysts are breaking the analysis of the collective team performance by position.


In other words, the full defensive line might be analyzed together. The same goes for midfielders, forwards or any other group of players on the field.


Let’s dig deeper into this trend…

Why Is There a Need for the Analysis of Different Positional Groups?


What should be taken into account when analysing a game of soccer? This is a question that all aspiring analysts and coaches should be asking themselves. Everyone wants the best for their team and, because of this, there’s an increasing awareness that video analysis is a tool that can make this work much easier.


So, what’s the answer? Well, it depends. It depends on the needs of the coach, the analyst and, of course, the team. Some aspects of the game, such as possession, may be of vital importance for some coaches, but completely irrelevant to others. So, yes, needs can change from team to team.


As we said at the beginning of the article, practically any aspect of the game that can be analyzed has been analyzed by someone at some point, whether that’s in top-flight soccer or down at the grass-roots level.


Shots on goal, set-pieces, passes…these were the first things to be analyzed, essential information that gave a numerical overview of the game. 


Later, tactical approaches were analyzed, revealing information about positioning, repeated patterns of play, and much more. 


The next innovation came by obtaining a deeper analysis of the basic actions. An good example of this would be set-pieces. Who took a freekick and from where, the type of shot, how the set-pieces were defended, etc.


nacsport analysis template for football


And that brings us to the trend that we’re talking about today, something which is being done at any number of teams in modern soccer. In an industry which is becoming increasingly specialised with more resources at its disposal, an independent analysis of each positional line is now common. And more than this, there are sometimes even specific analysts for each different position.



What Is Analysis by Position?


Well, we’re sure you have a fair idea by now about what we’re talking about, but let’s clarify what exactly we mean.


Let’s start by talking about the goalkeeper, a position we’ve already covered extensively in this blog. It could be said that the goalkeeper was the first individual position to be analyzed. This might not be surprising, as we’re talking about a player with a very specific and unique role within the team.


There have been specific goalkeeping coaches for a long time, and now there are specific goalkeeping analysts. So, yes, the goalkeeper would serve as a perfect example of what we’re talking about - analysis of a specific position on the field. We can then expand this outwards and talk about an analysis of the defensive line, the midfielders and the forwards.


This type of analysis is conducted in order to get an overview of how a particular line performed during the game, independent of their teammates. Did the defensive line remain organised and solid at the back? Were the midfielders getting into the best positions for pushing the ball forward? How well did the strikers work together in front of goal?


Each line usually has its own objectives to meet during a match, so it makes sense that there is an analysis of each general position in order to determine if these objectives were met. Such analysis will also reveal some interesting data, either about the home team or the opposition.


analysis by positional groups



How to Analyze by Position with Nacsport


The Nacsport button template has various options for obtaining this data. Depending on your needs, you can combine the tools as you see fit.





The main feature for collecting this data is the creation of groups in the button template. Once you’ve created descriptor buttons to represent each player in your team, you can also create groups which contain these players. For example, you can create groups named Defence, Midfield and Attack.



Once this is done, you simply assign each player to the corresponding group. From here, you can see all the data about this group compiled in other tools such as the data matrix or dashboard.


Also, a player can be in several groups at the same time, and you can create as many groups as you deem necessary. For example, you might want to obtain the data for the defensive line, but also for the wingers. In this case, you can create groups named Left Wing and Right Wing and include the wing backs in these groups, as well as the Defense group.


This means that you can analyze both groups independently.



Player Connections


The player connections tool, available in Nacsport Pro and Elite, can also be used to analyze positional groups.


This tool allows you to see all the plays carried out by a predefined group of players.


If you want to analyze plays in which the four defenders participated at the same time, you can activate the option “Set Players on Field Limit” from the options menu when registering a game.


nacsport player connections


Now, by right clicking on the button that has been created for that player you can activate the “Player on Field” option. You’ll see the descriptor indicator turns green in this case.


nacsport player connections players on field


Later, when it comes to conducting your analysis in the timeline, you’ll be able to access all the clips and data that are specifically related to groups of players.


If you have only activated the four defenders, a group will be created containing those players and you’ll be able to see the plays they were involved in, and also filter by specific player, such as centre-backs or wing-backs. By doing this, you can see, for example, all the plays in which both wing-backs participated actively. 


This is especially useful for seeing how changes in formation, such as a substitution, affect the flow of the play.

analyse positions football





In conclusion, analysis by positional groups is a practise which is becoming increasingly common in professional sport, and one which, if done correctly, can provide deeper insights into the game.


Yes, a team should function as a whole entity, but each line of players usually has a specific objectives and goals.


Being able to control and analyze such groups can improve a coach’s strategic decision making by detecting strengths and weaknesses in the team which, without a detailed analysis, might go unnoticed..


We hope this article has been useful to you. If you have any question about positional analysis, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us and we’ll be happy to point you in the right direction.


Until then…


Thanks for reading!

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