NO FULL TEXT AVAILABLE. Access is restricted indefinitely. ----- Video analysis methods have traditionally tended to be considered the most valid system for tracking movement patterns in athletes, and despite the enhancement in technology such as GPS, notational analysis is still the most practical method for tracking movement patterns in indoor sports such as futsal. Although several researchers are now conducting the necessary research to enable the scientific advancement of futsal, there is still a distinct lack of quality research available. Furthermore, while several team sport studies have examined the physiological and match-play differences between teams of different playing levels, no previous research has directly compared the match performance differences between futsal players and teams of an equivalent level in different countries, or the changes in movement patterns and ball skills during futsal match-play in a tournament.
To quantify the activity patterns of futsal players and teams, several notational analysis studies were conducted in this thesis. The first study aimed to establish the validity and reliability of a system (Event Recorder) utilised for tracking movement patterns. Ten participants completed a predetermined, pre-measured course, which provided criterion measurements, made specific to the movement patterns encountered in futsal. Each participant was tracked by video camera for the duration of their course, and equipped with a GPS unit in order to allow a comparison of GPS measurement to the criterion distances, along with a comparison to notational analysis measurements. The results demonstrated that the distance, duration and frequency values between the criterion and Event Recorder were similar with the Event Recorder producing a TEM of 2.1% for total distance covered and 3.1% for total duration of activities. GPS, however, tended to underestimate the values for distance and duration, including the total overall distance, and overestimate the values for frequency of activity. This suggests that notational analysis for tracking player movements is a valid and reliable method and may in fact, be a preferred and more effective method than GPS, particularly for indoor sports such as futsal.
Study 2 aimed to determine the individual physical performance differences between Australian and Spanish futsal players, with study 3 examining the match-play and performance differences between teams from Australia (4 matches), Brazil (4 matches) and Spain (5 matches). All teams were at a level of play where they could be scouted to potentially represent their country in futsal and were therefore of commensurate levels. These studies were conducted with a view to identity the shortcomings in Australian futsal. Based on current world rankings, it was assumed that Brazilian and Spanish futsal were superior to Australian futsal at the same level of competition. The matches were videotaped and players and teams were tracked during the entire match-play with a focus on differences in movement patterns, ball possession and match activities such as passing and shooting accuracy. The results showed that Australian futsal players cover a greater relative sprinting distance than the Spanish players (1.1 ± 1.0% v. 0.2 ± 0.3%, p<0.05), however, Spanish players have a greater success rate in their passes made to team mates and a greater number of touches on the ball. This suggests that the Spanish players were able to track the game with greater patience rather than committing to a sprint that may have resulted in an error or goal conceded. In study 3, the Brazilian team produced the greatest passing accuracy (p<0.05) with 93% of all passes being successful, and the Spanish team produced the best goal conversion ratio which demonstrated these teams’ successes as dominating futsal nations when compared to the Australian team.
Study 4 tracked a team from Australia participating in the Australian National Futsal Championships with the aim of detecting any physical or technical differences occurring during match-play across multiple matches (6) in a relatively short time period (3 days). For each match assessed, movement patterns, match activities and ball possession were monitored by means of validated video recording, identical to that used in studies two and three. In this study, there were declines in the total match sprinting distance, duration, frequency as well as the average high-intensity effort distance and duration from the first three matches of the tournament to the last three matches. It appears that fatigue, as quantified via notational analysis, may have had an effect on individual and team performance throughout the tournament, as a result of limited recovery time between six matches played in three days. Despite this difference, it is possible that the players controlled their efforts and choice of tactics with the knowledge that they needed to perform at their optimum throughout the tournament. This is because other key variables such as passing, shooting accuracy and ball possession remained consistent with the team’s performance from the beginning of the tournament to the end.
Based on the findings of this series of studies, it may be recommended that in order to improve their match-play, Australian futsal players should alter their movement patterns on the court in order to be able to track the game, the ball and their opponents more closely, avoiding being caught out of position. It is also recommended that Australian futsal players and teams focus on improving ball skills, specifically, the ability to gain and retain possession of the ball, in order to have greater eontrol of the game and provide more changes to pass to teammates and allow more goal scoring opportunities. Additionally, for those players and teams involved in tournaments, a sprint training program replicating match-play in the lead up to a tournament may assist with maintaining high-intensity distances and durations throughout the duration of the tournament.