Match play demands of 11 versus 11 professional football using Global Positioning System tracking: Variations across common playing formations

P. J. Tierney, A. Young, Neil D. Clarke, Michael J. Duncan

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This study aimed to examine Global Positioning System (GPS) determined movement patterns across the 5 most common playing formations (4-4-2; 4-3-3; 3-5-2; 3-4-3; 4-2-3-1) employed in 11 versus 11 football match play in England. Elite male footballers (n = 46) were monitored over the course of a season; total distance (TD), high speed running (HSR), high metabolic load distance (HMLD), high speed accelerations (Acc) and decelerations (Dec) data was collected for analysis. It was found that 3-5-2 formation elicited higher TD (10528 ± 565 m, p = 0.05), HSR (642 ± 215 m, p = 0.001), and HMLD (2025 ± 304 m, p = 0.001) than all other formations and above average Acc and Dec (34 ± 7, p = 0.036 and 57 ± 10, p = 0.006), with 4-2-3-1 eliciting the highest Acc and Dec (38 ± 8 and 61 ± 12). Positional data showed that CM in 4-3-3 covered >11% TD than in 4-4-2 (p = 0.012). FW in 3-5-2 covered >45% HSR than in 4-2-3-1 (p = 0.004). CM in 4-3-3 covered >14% HMLD than in 4-4-2 (p = 0.367). FW in 4-3-3 performed >49% accelerations than in 4-2-3-1 (p = 0.293). WD in 3-5-2 performed >20% more decelerations than in 4-4-2 (p = 0.161). This study is important for coaches understanding, that positional physical characteristics are influenced by the demands of playing in different formations during match play.

NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted forpublication in Human Movement Science. Changes resulting from the publishingprocess, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, andother quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changesmay have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. Adefinitive version was subsequently published in Human Movement Science, VOL49,(2016) DOI: 10.1016/j.humov.2016.05.007


© 2016, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative CommonsAttribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalHuman Movement Science
Early online date3 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2016

Bibliographical note

Due to publisher policy, the full text is not available on the repository until the 3rd of December 2017.


  • GPS
  • Formation
  • Match-play
  • Position
  • Training load

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