OptaPro's key strength is the ability to provide in-depth,
accessible data that is consistent across the globe. Without this
certainty, OptaPro's player and team statistics can be far less
valuable and there would be a danger that different leagues would
be analysed in conflicting ways, rendering proper player comparison
To avoid this, Opta have a long-established a consistent list of
'Event Definitions' in football that are adhered to across all data
This is a list of the main football events logged by Opta:
While this one may seem obvious, different governing bodies have
different rules and Opta usually works with the relevant people to
reflect their official decisions on goalscorers.
Shot on target
Any goal attempt that:
a) Goes into the net
b) Would have gone into the net but for being
stopped by a goalkeeper's save
c) Would have gone into the net but for being
stopped by a defender who is the last man.
Shot off target
Any goal attempt where the ball is going wide of the target,
misses the goal or hits the woodwork.
Any goal attempt heading roughly on target toward goal which is
blocked by a defender, where there are other defenders or a
goalkeeper behind the blocker.
Chance conversion/Goals-to-shots ratio
A calculation of goals scored divided by shots attempted
(excluding blocked attempts).
A calculation of Shots on target divided by all shots (excluding
Pattern of play for Goals/Attempts
Set Piece goals/attempts are those where the ball starts from a
dead ball situation such as a corner, a free kick, a penalty or a
Throw-in and results in a shot before the phase of play has broken
down into open play.
The exact point at which it becomes open play is usually clear
but set pieces which are cleared and then the ball is put straight
back into the penalty area are still deemed to be part of the set
piece as the defending team is still positioned to deal with the
A situation where a player should reasonably be expected to
score usually in a one-on-one scenario or from very close
The final pass or pass-cum-shot leading to the recipient of the
ball scoring a goal.
Second Assist/Key Pass
A pass/cross that is instrumental in creating a goal-scoring
opportunity, for example a corner or free-kick to a player who then
assists an attempt, a chance-creating through ball or cross into a
The final pass or pass-cum-shot leading to the recipient of the
ball having an attempt at goal without scoring.
Assists plus Key passes.
An intentional played ball from one player to another.
Opta adds a whole range of qualifiers to each pass event, so
that various things can be measured
•Chipped pass - a lofted ball where there is a clear intended
•Headed pass - a header where there is a clear intended
•Launch - a long high ball into space or into an area for
players to chase or challenge for the ball
•Cross - a pass from a wide position into a specific area in
front of the goal
•Flick-on - a glancing pass with head or foot onto a team mate
where the ball is helped on in the same general direction
•Pull back - a pass inside the penalty area which is pulled back
from the goal-line to the centre of the penalty area
•Lay-off - a ball returned back to where it came from (usually
by a forward) with one touch
•Through Ball - a pass splitting the defence for a team-mate to
run on to.
Each pass is logged with X and Y co-ordinates for its point of
origin and destination. This allows Opta to log the following:
•Passes broken down area of the pitch for example by own
half/opposition half or defensive/middle/final third or
•Passes broken down by half, for example short/long, short
•Pass direction, for example backwards/sideways/forwards.
Of course, the event based nature of the data is such that you
can calculate any combination such as chipped passes over 20 yards
in the final third that go sideways.
Opta also logs whether the pass is from open play or a dead ball
situation such as a corner, a free kick, a throw or goalkeeper
distribution from hands or goal kicks.
This is simply a formula where Successful passes are divided by
Total attempted passes in whichever combination of passes is
Usually, pass completion excludes crosses.
Crosses are usually treated separately and Crossing success is
the percentage of successful crosses out of the total
When the ball bounces off a player and there is no intentional
pass, we award a touch. Where there is a mis-control we award an
This is an attempt by a player to beat an opponent in possession
of the ball. A successful dribble means the player beats the
defender while retaining possession, unsuccessful ones are where
the dribbler is tackled, Opta also log attempted dribbles where the
player overruns the ball.
A tackle is defined as where a player connects with the ball in
ground challenge where he successfully takes the ball away from the
man in possession.
A Tackle Won is deemed to be where the tackler or one of his
team-mates regains possession as a result of the challenge, or that
the ball goes out of play and is "safe".
A Tackle Lost is where a tackle is made but the ball goes to an
This is a defensive action where a player kicks the ball away
from his own goal with no intended recipient of the ball.
This is where a player blocks a shot from an opposing
This is where a player intentionally intercepts a pass by moving
into the line of the intended ball.
This is where a player wins back the ball when it has gone loose
or where the ball has been played directly to him.
Shield ball out of play
Where a player shields the ball from an opponent and is
successful in letting it run out of play.
Any infringement that is penalised as foul play by a
Where a player is fouled by an opponent. There is no foul won
for a handball or a dive where a free kick is conceded.
Awarded to the player deemed to be in an offside position where
a free kick is awarded.
A duel is an 50-50 contest between two players of opposing sides
in the match. For every Duel Won there is a corresponding Duel Lost
depending on the outcome of the Duel.
Aerial Challenge won - Aerial Challenge
This is where two players challenge in the air against each other.
The player that wins the ball is deemed to have won the duel. When
more than two players are involved the player closest to the duel
winner is given an Aerial Duel lost.
Successful Take-on/Dribble - Challenge
The player who has been beaten is given a Challenge lost if they
do not win the ball.
Tackle - Unsuccessful Take-on/Dispossessed
A tackle is awarded if a player wins the ball from another player
who is in possession. If he is attempting to beat the tackler, the
other player will get an unsuccessful Take-on. If he is in
possession but not attempting to "beat" his man, then he will get a
Smother - Unsuccessful Take-on.
A goalkeeper who comes out and claims the ball at the feet of a
forward gets a smother, similar to a tackle.
Foul won-Foul conceded.
The player winning the foul is deemed to have won the duel and the
player committing the foul having lost the duel.
A goalkeeper preventing the ball from entering the goal with any
part of his body.
Saves are broken down into:
•Caught/Collected/Parried Safe/Parried Danger area/Fingertip
A player or team who does not concede a goal for the full
We log which way a goalkeeper dives regardless of the outcome of
A high ball that is caught by the goalkeeper
A high ball that is punched clear by the goalkeeper.
A high ball where the goalkeeper gets hands on the ball but
drops it from his grasp.
Cross not claimed
When a goalkeeper comes off his goal line to claim a high ball
and misses the ball.
The percentage of high balls that a goalkeeper tries to deal
with where he is successful - Catches+Punches divided by total high
balls he came for.
When a goalkeeper comes out of his goal to sweep up behind his
defence and attempt to clear the ball.
A sum of all events where a player touches the ball, so excludes
things like Aerial challenge lost or Challenge lost.
For Opta Discipline tables, we award one point per foul
conceded, three points per yellow card and six per red card. For
Referees' tables we also add three points per penalty awarded.