Analysing Women's Lacrosse Performance: Some Historical Data


In 1994 I attended the 10th Commonwealth and International Scientific Conference in Victoria, British Columbia. There were 600 delegates from 33 countries at the Conference. The central theme was ‘Access to Active Living’ and around this 15 strands were organised. I attended five different strands: Sport and Coaching Education; Teacher Education; Sociology; Exercise Physiology; Motor Learning and Control.
I presented a paper at the Conference on the notational analysis of women’s lacrosse performance at the International Federation of Women’s Lacrosse Associations’ (IFWLA) 1993 World Cup. I used an overhead projector to present some key aspects of my paper.
My hope was that the content would be relevant to a number of the Conference strands. I contributed to a Symposium of Notational Analysis of Sport with Mike Hughes, Ian Franks and some of Ian’s research students. The symposium was entitled ‘From Counting to Prediction’.
I found a report about the conference that I submitted to my head of department at the Cardiff Institute of Higher Education back in 1994. In it I observed:

I do feel that the ongoing inclusion of the Institute in a world system of scholarship requires a creative use of information networks. Many delegates actively use E-mail to share research and ideas. I think we must do this and recommend that E-mail and Internet use be an urgent theme for staff development.

The title of my paper was Analysing an Invasive Team Field Game: A Case Study from Women’s Lacrosse.
I present the paper here with the benefits of 16 years hindsight. I have included hyperlinks to support the 1994 text.

Analysing an Invasive Team Field Game: A Case Study from Women’s Lacrosse

1. Introduction
I attended the IFWLA 1993 World Cup Tournament held in Edinburgh at the Heriot Watt University campus. My role at the Tournament was to provide a performance analysis service to the Welsh Lacrosse Team. This role required me to make video recordings of all games played and to provide post event analysis to support the coach and players in the Welsh team.
All games in the Tournament were played on the same pitch. I used a Panasonic S-VHS camera (Panasonic, Japan) to record all the games played. I filmed each game from the same half way line location on an elevated bank (I marked the tripod position) to ensure that post event notation and analysis of the video record used the same perspective. I did not stop the recording of each game until the end of each half to ensure that all stop clock events were included. I used a 180 minute Panasonic SVHS video tape for each game. All games were notated post event with pen and paper whilst using a Panasonic S-VHS video recorder (Panasonic, Japan) to enable frame by fame observation of each game tape.
I did not conduct intra- or inter-observer tests for the reliability of the data recorded (Darst, Mancini and Zakrajsek, 1983; Darst, 1989) and note it here as a limitation of the study. I had been working as a full-time performance analyst for two years at that time and was confident that my knowledge of the game and the availability of a complete record that could be investigated without time constraint would enable a high degree of accuracy in my data capture. I stored the videos of the World Cup until my departure from Cardiff in 2002 in case anyone was interested in the data.

In this paper I seek to share:

I do so through a case study approach (Stake, 1978).

2. A Case Study

The paper reports a notational analysis of the Fourth Women’s World Cup Tournament held in Edinburgh in 1993. It is presented at a time when Women’s Lacrosse will be a demonstration sport at the 1994 Commonwealth Games.
3. Aims
The aims of the paper are:

  1. To say something about notational analysis in sport
  2. To present some empirical data from the 1993 IFWLA World Cup
  3. To consider the appeal of women’s lacrosse as a potential Commonwealth Games sport.

Three games are used to discuss the performance characteristics of teams and game at the World Cup: the final (England v United States of America (USA)), a game to determine final classification (crossover game) (Wales v Canada) and a play off game for the two newest teams at the Tournament (Japan v Representation of Czechs and Slovaks (RCS)).
4. Methods
Data were collected post event for three games from video recordings. The video recordings were a complete record of the duration of each game. The camera was turned on prior to the centre draw that started each half and turned off immediately after the umpire’s whistle to end each half. The games were recorded on 180 minute Panasonic SVHS tapes to ensure that sufficient tape was available should any game have extensive stop clock events.
All three games were analysed using the play, pause and slow motion controls of a Panasonic SVHS video recorder. The games were viewed on a large screen Panasonic monitor. Despite using SVHS as a recording medium there was some blurring of images when the video was paused. In all instances any uncertainty about events were resolved by repeated playing of the video until an action or time could be confirmed. Each game took approximately twelve hours to analyse. Time measures were collected using a EA Combs stopwatch 235 3750 (EA Combs, London, United Kingdom) whilst the video was playing in real time and checked against the video recorder’s time code to compare accuracy to the nearest second.
All data on time measures were captured in real time as the video played at normal speed. All data for possession of the ball and use of that possession were captured through slow motion play and replay.
Data were tallied with pen and paper. Data collected were:

  • The elapsed time duration of games
  • Time in possession of the ball
  • Ball in play time as a percentage of elapsed game time
  • Passes made and passing errors (unforced and forced)

5. Performance Data

5.1 Elapsed Time Duration of Games
The operational definition of elapsed time duration of a game used in this study is “the time from the first centre draw to start of the game to the umpire’s whistle to end the first half and the time from the centre draw to start the second half to the umpire’s whistle to end of game”. Elapsed time measures the total time of the game and is measured by a running clock that does not stop regardless of official ‘stop clock’ events.
Table 1
Elapsed time (minutes and seconds) by game type, by half and game total

Game Teams First Half Second Half Total
Final England 
28m 18s 31m 20s 59m 38s
Crossover Wales 
31m 40s 33m 20s 65m
7th/8th Playoff Japan 
35m 42s 37m 18s



5.2 Time in Possession
The operational definition of possession used to quantify data here is “that time when a player has the ball under control in her crosse and the transfer of the ball to a member of her team that provides a continuity of possession by the team”.
Table 2
Time in possession by team, by half and by game total



First Half

Second Half


Final England

9m 34s

6m 18s

15m 52s


7m 32s

10m 13s

17m 45s


Crossover Wales

7m 57s

6m 47s

14m 44s


10m 06s

11m 25s

21m 31s


7th/8th Playoff Japan

7m 30s

12m 45s

20m 15s


7m 29s

6m 16s

13m 45s

5.3 Ball in Play Time as a Percentage of Total Elapsed Time
In contrast to the running clock measure of time used in 5.1, ball in play time is measured by a stop clock. The operational definition of ball in play time used here is “the time the ball is in play between umpires’ whistles to start and stop the game”.
Table 3
Ball in Play Time as a Percentage of Total Elapsed Time

Game Teams First Half Second Half Total



England v USA





Wales v Canada






7th/8th Playoff
Japan v RCS






5.4 Use of Possession: Passes, Unforced Errors, Forced Errors
A pass is defined as “the successful transfer of the ball from one player to another player in the same team without an opponent disrupting or intercepting the path of the ball”. An unforced error is defined as “a pass that does not reach another player of the same team without any pressure from an opponent to disrupt the pass”. A forced error is defined as “a pass that does not reach another player of the same team with evident pressure from an opponent in close proximity to disrupt the pass”.
Table 4
Use of Possession by Team, by Half, by Game Total: Passes, Unforced Errors, Forced Errors

Final: England v USA

First Half Second Half Game Total
Passes 89 94 56 110 145 204
Unforced Errors
9 9 6 8 15 17
Forced Errors
7 7 10 8 17 15

Crossover: Wales v Canada

First Half Second Half Game Total
Passes 96 73 80 75 176 148
Unforced Errors
8 6 11 8 19 14
Forced Errors
15 4 10 8 25 12


First Half Second Half Game Total
Passes 59 53 128 36 187 89
Unforced Errors
14 17 20 19 34 36
Forced Errors
6 15 3 7 9 22

6. Conclusion
The aims of this paper were:

  1. To say something about notational analysis in sport
  2. To present some empirical data from the 1993 IFWLA World Cup
  3. To consider the appeal of women’s lacrosse as a potential Commonwealth Games sport.

The case study presented data from three games and provided a cursory profile of the performance of: the two leading teams in the tournament; two teams that played a highly competitive crossover game; and a game from two new teams in the World Cup Tournament.
Darst, PW (ed.) 1989, Analyzing Physical Education and Sport Instruction, Human Kinetics, Champaign IL. (Link)
Darst, PW, Mancini, VH & Zakrajsek, D 1983, Systematic observation instrumentation for physical education, Leisure Press, New York. (Link)

Stake, R 1978, ‘The Case Study Method in Social Inquiry’, Educational Researcher, vol. 7, no. 2, pp. 5-8. (Link)



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