Why Metcalfe’s Law applies to soccer

In this post back in 2019, I wrote about how Metcalfe’s Law of computer networks can be applied to predict time of possession in youth matches.

There, I make the case that the offense of an 11v11 team is a network, with each player being a node of the network for which the ball to pass through.

To be an effective node, players need to be able to keep the ball with the team. To do that, they need to be able to trap, pass and dribble with consistency. It also helps know how to get open and communicate with your teammates and throw in some deception to keep the defense off balance.

The offensive effectiveness of a team is exponentially, rather than linearly, related to how many players are effective offensive nodes (i.e. low turnover).

That’s because for each player that are not it eliminates their passing options and weakens the quality of the remaining options on the field, because the other team can predict where the ball is going easier and can better cover those options.

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