Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
ISSN: 1303 - 2968   
Ios-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Androit-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
©Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2021) 20, 158 - 169   DOI:

Research article
Attacking Key Performance Indicators in Soccer: Current Practice and Perceptions from the Elite to Youth Academy Level
Mat Herold1,3, , Matthias Kempe2, Pascal Bauer3,4, Tim Meyer1,3
Author Information
1 Institute of Sports and Preventive Medicine, Saarland University, Saarbrücken, Germany
2 Center for Human Movement Sciences, University of Groningen, University Medical Center Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands
3 Deutscher Fußball-Bund, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
4 Data Science and Sports Lab, University of Tübingen, Germany

Mat Herold
✉ Institute of Sports and Preventive Medicine, Saarland University, Campus B8.2, 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany
Publish Date
Received: 02-06-2020
Accepted: 04-01-2021
Published (online): 01-03-2021
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Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are used to evaluate the offensive success of a soccer team (e.g. penalty box entries) or player (e.g. pass completion rate). However, knowledge transfer from research to applied practice is understudied. The current study queried practitioners (n = 145, mean ± SD age: 36 ± 9 years) from 42 countries across different roles and levels of competition (National Team Federation to Youth Academy levels) on various forms of data collection, including an explicit assessment of twelve attacking KPIs. 64.3% of practitioners use data tools and applications weekly (predominately) to gather KPIs during matches. 83% of practitioners use event data compared to only 52% of practitioners using positional data, with a preference for shooting related KPIs. Differences in the use and value of metrics derived from positional tracking data (including Ball Possession Metrics) were evident between job role and level of competition. These findings demonstrate that practitioners implement KPIs and gather tactical information in a variety of ways with a preference for simpler metrics related to shots. The low perceived value of newer KPIs afforded by positional data could be explained by low buy-in, a lack of education across practitioners, or insufficient translation of findings by experts towards practice.

Key words: Football, soccer, match analysis, performance analysis, applied data-science

           Key Points
  • Soccer practitioners collect data and evaluate performance in a variety of ways depending on the level of competition and their role within a club or federation.
  • Practitioners reported a preference for shooting related metrics gathered by event data compared to KPIs offered by optical positional tracking technology.
  • Despite increased interest and the capability to measure contextual aspects of passing performance with tracking technology, most practitioners still rely on more easily computed metrics (e.g. Pass Completion Percentage) and ball possession KPIs (e.g. Total Duration of Possession).
  • This study highlights a gap in knowledge transfer between research and practice, encouraging increased education and collaborative efforts between data/sport scientists and practitioners to progress the field of analytics towards practical use in soccer.
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