Practical team sports analysis - Football and Basketball

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There are various individual skills and team tactics needed to play football.


Formations in football are a method of positioning players on the pitch to allow a team to play according to their pre-set tactics. Different formations can be used depending on whether a team wishes to play more attacking or defensive football. Usually if the team has the ball more in a game and they have already scored more than once they just keep the ball and not risk taking passes that will give the ball away. Formations can be altered during a game, but this requires adaptation by the players to fit in to the new system.

Formations count the number of players in each area, beginning with the defensive line (not including the goalkeeper). It is by convention counted when the team is defending and being properly organised. The most common formations are variations of 4-4-2, 4-3-3.


In competitive 11-a-side matches, teams are allowed to bring on up to three substitutes. The rules of the competition must state the maximum number of players allowed to be named as a substitute, which may be anywhere between three and seven. In non-competitive matches, the use of substitutes must be determined before the match begins, except in friendly international matches, where no more than six substitutes may be brought on.

The most tired players are generally substituted, but only if their substitutes are well trained to fill in the same role, or if the formation is transformed at the same time to accommodate for the substitution.

Coaches often refrain from substituting defensive players in order not to disrupt the defensive posture of the team. Instead, they often replace ineffective attackers or unimaginative midfielders in order to freshen up the attacking posture and increase their chances of scoring.

For a team that is losing a game, a fresh striker can bring more benefit in penetrating the opposition’s defensive line which is composed of relatively tired players. For a team that is winning a game, a fresh midfielder or a defender can bring more benefit in strengthening the defence against the opposition's attackers (who may be fresh substitutes themselves). In this situation, it is usually imaginative attacking flair players who are replaced by tough-tackling defensive midfielders or defenders.

Injured players may also need to be substituted. For each injured player who must be substituted, the team loses one more opportunity to influence things later in the game in their favour.

Substitutions can also be used as a time consuming tactic to hold a one goal lead in the last minutes.

Fouls and Poor Conduct

The following are fouls or poor conduct practices in football:

  • Pretending injury in order to delay play or to get an opponent booked or sent off
  • Teasing opponents to get them out of balance
  • Attempting to influence the referees
  • Touching the ball with the hands
  • Holding the shirts of opponents players
  • Illegally stopping players in a counter-attack
  • Recklessly duelling with the opponent's goalkeeper
  • Professional fouls

Although some fans and players see foul play as a good part of the game (as long as it helps them win), FIFA constantly change rules and issue campaigns for promoting "Fair Play".

Individual Skills

The importance of a skill depends to an extent on the player's position on the field. Overall, football skills can be divided into four main areas, namely outfield technical, physical, mental and goalkeeping technical abilities.

Technical skills

  • Handling
  • Pace
  • Sprinting
  • Stamina
  • Strength
  • Throw-ins
  • Shooting
  • Headers
  • Endurance

Physical skills

  • Pace
  • Agility
  • Sprinting
  • Stamina
  • Headers
  • Power
  • Endurance
  • Jumping
  • Balance
  • One on ones

Mental Skills

  • Intelligence (game understanding)
  • Vision (ability to see build-up play ahead to others or ability to see a pass or awareness of players around you)
  • Composure (ability to control the game at any critical situation in the match)
  • Leadership (able to guide the youngsters in the field and be able to motivate and inspire others)
  • Communication (can be considered a mental ability)
  • Decision-making (determine in advance what to do)

Goalkeeping skills

  • Jumping (can be considered a physical ability)
  • Agility (can be considered a physical ability)
  • Balance (can be considered a physical ability)
  • Communication (can be considered a mental ability)
  • Goal kicker (can be considered a physical ability)
  • Handling (can be considered a technical ability)
  • One on ones
  • Positioning
  • Reflexes (can be considered a mental ability)
  • Decision-making
  • Throwing (can be considered a physical ability)
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Tactics during a game situation

General principles of attack and defence

Width and depth are both principles of offense and defence as follows:

  • Width in attack- the attacker tries to divide the defence by spreading the play wide, rather than attempting to force through narrow channels. This may involve play from the wings, or rapidly shifting into open space when approaching the goal. Mainly using wingers, often gaps are made between defenders using the width. These gaps can be used to feed the ball to strikers.
  • Width in defence- the defender counters, trying to contract and deny width. Attackers ...

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