Relationships between opponent ranking and locomotor activity in international field hockey

Carl A James*, Oliver R Gibson, Ashley GB Willmott, Craig Stewart, Aishwar Dhawan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


No research has investigated the effect of opponent world ranking (WR) on locomotor activity within modern (post-2015) international men's hockey. A retrospective analysis of 71 matches (vs. 24 opponents, WR# 12 ± 11, WR# 1–86) investigated the relationships between opponent ranking at team and positional levels, on locomotor activity. Data were analysed using linear mixed modelling to; (1) explore relationships between opponent ranking and locomotor activity and (2) to compare between predefined ranking groups (WR# 1–8 ‘HIGHER’ [n = 8], WR# 9–17 ‘SIMILAR’ [n = 8] and WR >#18 ‘LOWER’ [n = 8]), relative to the reference team (WR# 11). Significant relationships were found between opponent world ranking and total distance (β = −6.11; p = 0.003), high-speed running ([HSR], β = −4.87, p < 0.001), sprint distance ([SD], β = −2.41, p < 0.001), sprint efforts ([SE], β = −0.10, p < 0.001) and average speed (β = −0.19, p < 0.001), but not low-speed running (β = −0.94, p = 0.57). When analysed by ranking groups, HSR, SD and SE increased against HIGHER (+12%–14% vs. grand mean, p < 0.05) and reduced against LOWER teams (−15%–18% vs. grand mean, p < 0.05). The largest differences in SD were observed in forwards (HIGHER +14% and LOWER −19%) and defenders (HIGHER +20% and LOWER −18%). In international hockey, average speed is greatest when facing higher-ranked rather than similarly ranked opponents. Furthermore, high-speed but not low-speed activity, is modulated by opponent ranking.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2070-2081
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Sports Science and Coaching
Issue number6
Early online date1 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

User-Defined Keywords

  • Global positioning system
  • high-speed running
  • performance analysis
  • sprint


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