What is the FUT-SAT?

System of Tactical Assessment in Soccer (FUT-SAT)

FUT-SAT was built with the aim to easily provide coaches, teachers and researchers with a means to access specifically, and objectively the information that reflect tactical behaviors performed by players in game situations. Its conceptual structure is founded on the core tactical principles of Soccer, being for the offensive phase: penetration, offensive coverage, depth mobility, width and length with the ball, width and length without the ball, and offensive unity; and for the defensive phase: delay, defensive coverage, recovery balance, defensive balance, concentration and defensive unity. These principles were chosen for representing the core aspects of the process of teaching and training of the tactical capability and the basic structure is present in all coaches’ game models. Besides that, this set of principles has objective measures of the players’ motion according to the management of game space performed by them.

The presence of these principles in the core structure of FUT-SAT helps to understand the tactical organization of the game, since the dynamic of its interactions and applications is related with the model and the playing level of the teams. Furthermore, the use of modified spaces to the assessment of the tactical behavior matches the needs of teaching and training, since many coaches use changes in structure of their game drills, whether they are to facilitate the flow or to induce the occurrence of actions related to the tactical capabilities.

The field test within this system, allow the use of numeric setup that range from the “GK + 3 vs. 3 + GK” up to the “11 vs. 11”. The standard numeric setup used for assessment is the “GK + 3 vs. 3 + GK”, being performed during 4 minutes in a field of 36 meters long by 27 meters wide. The dimensions of this test were calculated based on the measures of a Soccer field permitted by the International Football Association Board and on the ratio calculation of the use of game space by outfield players. The amount of time was established through a pilot study carried out by Teoldo and colleagues (2009), in which it was found that four minutes, comparatively with the time length of up to eight minutes, would suffice for all players to perform the actions related with all of the tactical principles assessed by the FUT-SAT observation instrument.

Due to such characteristics, this system enables the progress in terms of objective measures of players’ motion in the game, what has been emphasized by literature as a limitation for the building of reliable instruments for assessment of player performance. The consideration of the tactical principles as nuclear aspects of assessment also presents advantages in the contextualized and longitudinal assessment of the players, during the whole process of formation, since they are all considered principles taught during this process.

Another advantage of the system concerns the flexibility of use of its categories and variables, since they can be used according to the objectives of the coach or the researcher. This system also meets the need to assess specific tactical aspects of the game of Soccer that up to now had not been covered in the existing instruments in literature, and enables the assessment of the dynamics established by players with and without the ball during the game, considering the presence and quality of interaction of the opponent.

Composition of the System

Variables and Categories

FUT-SAT comprises two macro-categories, seven categories and 76 variables that are organized according to the type of information dealt with by the system. The Macro- Category Observation comprises three categories and 24 variables. The other Macro-Category Outcome features four categories and 52 variables. The Macro-Category Outcome has this designation due to its variables being dependent on the information coming from the variables that compose the Macro- Category Observation.

Characterization of the Field Test

The use of the numeric setup GK+3 vs. 3+GK (goalkeeper + 3 players vs. 3 players + goalkeeper) arises from the understanding that this structure ensures the occurrence of all tactical principles inherent to formal play. This configuration enables, in offensive terms, the movement from a binary choice to a multiple choice and the preservation of the play without the ball, since it gathers the ball carriers and two potential receivers. From the defensive point of view, it gathers a direct defender of the ball carrier (1st defender) to perform the delay and two defenders (2nd and 3rd), relatively more distant from the ball carrier, to perform possible distance coverage, such as double marking and compensations, respecting other defensive tactical principles.

The field test is performed during 4 minutes in a field of 36 meters long by 27 meters wide. To conduct the test, the practitioners are randomly divided (or considering the aims of the coach or researcher) in two teams of three players each, and using numbered vests. Each team uses different vests color to facilitate the identification of players in the video. During the application the players are asked to play according to the official laws of the game. The images are recorded by a video camera placed diagonally in relation to the goal-line and the sideline.

FUT-SAT’s Protocol

FUT-SAT’s protocol comprises three procedures, which can be performed in a simple way (by only one individual) or favoring dual-input data. The first consists in analyzing the actions performed by the players during the match, with the ball possession being the analysis unit. This is considered when a player meets at least one of the following assumptions: (a) performs at least three consecutive contacts with the ball; (b) performs a correct pass (enables the team to keep ball possession); or (c) shoots at goal.

The second procedure refers to the assessment, classification and recording of the tactical actions. To accomplish these three actions, the observer relies on the observation instrument and has the support of the software Soccer View 1.0®, which was specially designed for FUT-SAT. It enables the insertion of the test’s spatial references within the video, thus allowing the rigorous assessment of players’ positioning and movement within the playing field.

The third procedure refers to the calculation of the variables included in the categories Tactical Performance Index (TPI), Tactical Actions, Percentage of Errors and Place of Action Related to the Principles (PARP). Within the software Soccer View 1.0®, this procedure was incorporated and is automatically performed.

The results provided by FUT-SAT enable a quick and detailed assessment of the player’s tactical performance. The access to this information is important, for it allows inefficient behaviors to be trained and developed during the sports education process. Thus, the systematic repetition of the application of this test throughout players’ sports development, enables the coaching staff to learn the tactical potentialities and limitations of the players, and consequently design and maximize training activities, according to the team’s needs.


For further information about FUT-SAT and the tactical principles, please refer to the book:

“Training Football for Smart Playing: On tactical performance of teams and players”: https://nucleofutebol.ufv.br/english/?page_id=1236

Exemplar video recording for assessment through FUT-SAT:

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