Competing together: assessing the dynamics of team-team and player-team synchrony in professional association football

Ricardo Duarte, Duarte Araújo, Vanda Correia, Keith Davids, Pedro Marques, Michael J. Richardson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Citations (Scopus)


This study investigated movement synchronization of players within and between teams during competitive association football performance. Cluster phase analysis was introduced as a method to assess synchronies between whole teams and between individual players with their team as a function of time, ball possession and field direction. Measures of dispersion (SD) and regularity (sample entropy - SampEn - and cross sample entropy - Cross-SampEn) were used to quantify the magnitude and structure of synchrony. Large synergistic relations within each professional team sport collective were observed, particularly in the longitudinal direction of the field (0.89. ±. 0.12) compared to the lateral direction (0.73. ±. 0.16, p< .01). The coupling between the group measures of the two teams also revealed that changes in the synchrony of each team were intimately related (Cross-SampEn values of 0.02 ± 0.01). Interestingly, ball possession did not influence team synchronization levels. In player–team synchronization, individuals tended to be coordinated under near in-phase modes with team behavior (mean ranges between −7 and 5° of relative phase). The magnitudes of variations were low, but more irregular in time, for the longitudinal (SD: 18 ± 3°; SampEn: 0.07 ± 0.01), compared to the lateral direction (SD: 28 ± 5°; SampEn: 0.06 ± 0.01, p < .05) on-field. Increases in regularity were also observed between the first (SampEn: 0.07 ± 0.01) and second half (SampEn: 0.06 ± 0.01, p < .05) of the observed competitive game. Findings suggest that the method of analysis introduced in the current study may offer a suitable tool for examining team’s synchronization behaviors and the mutual influence of each team’s cohesiveness in competing social collectives.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)555-566
Number of pages12
JournalHuman Movement Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • team synchrony
  • collective systems
  • interpersonal dynamics
  • cluster phase analysis
  • sports teams


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