Packing in football: A differential ecological perspective on passes

Steiner, Silvan; Rauh, Stephan; Rumo, Martin; Emery, N.; Sonderegger, Karin; Seiler, Roland (2017). Packing in football: A differential ecological perspective on passes. In: 22nd Annual Congress of the European College of Sport Science. Abstractband. MetropolisRuhr (Essen), Germany. 5.-8.07.2017.

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Introduction Packing has had its major appearance at the UEFA European Championship 2016. It indicates how many opponents are packed (“taken out” of the game) by a pass ( and has established as an inherent part of game statistics. In general, passes are more probably played to team members with open passing lanes, standing relatively close to the ball carrier, positioned in front of the ball, and defended loosely by opponent players (unpublished data). The goal of this study was to test whether passes with different packing differ in their relationships to ecological features of the game context. Methods Game data from five football competitions between some of Switzerland’s best-ranked U-18 teams were collected by the Local Positioning Measurement System of the Swiss Federal Institute of Sport. The system records the positions of opponent teams with little time latency and a high data resolution. Time synchronized videos were used to identify passing situations. 1778 completed passes were identified and categorized according to their packing. For each pass, the positions of all 22 players were exported to calculate the team members’ distance to the ball carrier, the openness of the passing lane, the defensive coverage, and the position before or behind the ball. Logistic regressions for binomial data were specified to estimate the effect of the ecological variables on passes with different packing. Results In contrast to the significant effects found when considering all passes, the openness of passing lanes was no ecological information that significantly affected passes with a packing of greater-than-or-equal to two. In a similar way, no effect of defensive coverage was found for passes with a packing of greater-than-or-equal to three. Discussion Passes with a packing of three and more do not show the characteristic effects of open passing lanes or loose defence of the intended receivers. They could, compared to passes with a lower packing, be considered risky passes. The findings may cautiously be interpreted in regard to the athletes’ specific use of ecological information. It might be argued that athletes playing passes with high packing oppress ecological information that are usually more heavily weighted in passing decisions. Or, they more heavily weigh or rely on other information to guide their passing behaviour. More research is required to prove the adequacy of this interpretation.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Abstract)


07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Sport Science (ISPW)
07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Sport Science (ISPW) > Sport Science II

UniBE Contributor:

Steiner, Silvan and Seiler, Roland


100 Philosophy > 150 Psychology
700 Arts > 790 Sports, games & entertainment






Silvan Steiner

Date Deposited:

13 Mar 2018 11:35

Last Modified:

02 Nov 2019 20:09




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