Straight sprinting is the most frequent action in goal situations in professional football

J Sports Sci. 2012;30(7):625-31. doi: 10.1080/02640414.2012.665940. Epub 2012 Mar 6.


The present study aimed to analyse the influence of speed and power abilities in goal situations in professional football. During the second half of the season 2007/08, videos of 360 goals in the first German national league were analysed by visual inspection. For the assisting and the scoring player the situations immediately preceding the goal were evaluated. The observed actions were categorised as: no powerful action, rotation (around the body's centre-line), straight sprint, change-in-direction sprint, jump, or a combination of those categories. Two hundred and ninety-eight (83%) goals were preceded by at least one powerful action of the scoring or the assisting player. Most actions for the scoring player were straight sprints (n = 161, 45% of all analysed goals, P < 0.001) followed by jumps (n = 57, 16%), rotations and change-in-direction sprints (n = 22, 6% each). Most sprints were conducted without an opponent (n = 109, P < 0.001) and without the ball (n = 121, P < 0.001). Similarly, for the assisting player the most frequent action was a straight sprint (n = 137, P < 0.001) followed by rotations (n = 28), jumps (n = 22) and change-in-direction sprints (n = 18). The straight sprints were mostly conducted with the ball (n = 93, P = 0.003). In conclusion, straight sprinting is the most frequent action in goal situations. Power and speed abilities are important within decisive situations in professional football and, thus, should be included in fitness testing and training.

MeSH terms

  • Athletic Performance*
  • Competitive Behavior*
  • Football
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Movement*
  • Posture
  • Rotation
  • Running*
  • Soccer*
  • Task Performance and Analysis*