Informational constraints shape emergent functional behaviours during performance of interceptive actions in team sports

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This study aimed to explain how defenders intercept the trajectory of a passing ball by understanding how they coupled their actions to critical information sources in a competitive performance setting in team sports.


Time series data on movement displacements of fifteen senior male futsal performers were recorded and digitized during nine competitive futsal games.


Performance was recorded by a digital camera and digitized with TACTO software. The spatial–temporal dynamics of performers during ten intercepted and ten non-intercepted passes were compared. Time to ball interception was calculated by the difference between the time of each defender to an interception point in ball trajectory and the time of the ball’s arrival at the same interception point. Initial distances between defenders and ball and velocity data of defenders and ball over time were also recorded.


Time to ball interception revealed positive values when passes were not intercepted, and negative to zero values when passes were intercepted. At the moment of pass initiation defenders’ distances to the ball constrained their possibilities for successful interception. Analysis of defenders’ adaptations to the environment revealed that continuous changes in the defenders’ velocities constrained their success of the interception.


Intercepted passes seemed to be influenced by the continuous regulation of a defender’s velocity relative to the ball’s trajectory. Time to ball interception is a variable that captured the emergent functional behaviours of players attempting to intercept the trajectory of a pass in the team sport of futsal.

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