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Marta Hurst1, Manuel Loureiro1, Beatriz Valongo1, Lorenzo Laporta1, Pantelis Nikolaidis2, José Afonso1

1University of Porto, Faculty of Sports, Centre of Research, Education, Innovation and Intervention in Sport, Porto, Portugal
2Hellenic Army Academy, Department of Physical and Cultural Education, Athens, Greece

Systemic Mapping of High-Level Women’s Volleyball using Social Network Analysis: The Case of Attack Coverage, Freeball, and Downball

Abstract (ENG)

This work analysed team sports as complex systems in which behavioural variables need to be taken into consideration when studying performance. Within this understanding, the use of Social Network Analysis constitutes a useful research path. As such, this research analysed two of the least studied game complexes: attack coverage and freeball and downball, in eight matches from the first Group Stage of the Women’s World Grand Prix 2015, comprising a total of 1,264 rallies. Eigenvector centrality values were calculated, with each behavioural variable counted as a node and their connections as edges. The results showed that playing in off-system is central in both complexes, although more so in attack coverage than in freeball and downball situations. Results also showed that although freeing a higher number of players for attack action is potentially advantageous, such action would become a disadvantage when faced with an effective blocking action and the sudden need for effective attack coverage. Overall, this study showed that volleyball coaches should take off-system game moments into stronger consideration and devise a strategy of play that will turn off-system play into an advantage.

Keywords (ENG)

Off-system Gameplay, Performance Analysis, Social Network Analysis, Volleyball.

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