Skill importance in women’s soccer

Matthew Heiner 1 , Gilbert W. Fellingham 1 , and Camille Thomas 2
  • 1 Statistics, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT, USA
  • 2 Physical Education and Human Performance, Southern Utah University, Cedar City, UT, USA
Matthew Heiner, Gilbert W. Fellingham and Camille Thomas


Soccer analytics often follow one of two approaches: 1) regression models on number of shots taken or goals scored to predict match winners, or 2) spatial and/or temporal analysis of plays for evaluation of strategy. We propose a new model to evaluate skill importance in soccer. Play by play data were collected on 22 NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer matches with a new skill notation system. Using a Bayesian approach, we model play sequences as discrete absorbing Markov chains. Using posterior distributions, we estimate the probability of 35 distinct offensive skills leading to a shot during a single possession.

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