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Product Code: 00001261

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This study is specifically concerned with the effect of a-six week simulation game training on breakaways in football among football academy players in Lagos state. Twenty-eight (n = 28) participants were selected through purposive random sampling from two football academies in Lagos state.Pretest posttest experimental and control groups research design was used for this study. Data on goals scored was collected from 22 participants during a pretest of 12 matches, 10 minutes each and a posttest of 12 matches, 10 minutes each. Participants in the experimental groups A (n =3), B (n = 4) and C (n = 3) were respectively trained during 12 sessions of simulation game training. A control group (n = 12) did not receive any training or instructions.  Data collected was analyzed using analysis of variance to test the four hypotheses formulated in the study at 0.05 level of significance.The result of the findings showed that goal scoring ratio improved in the experimental groups between pre- and post-session compared to the control group. The players’ subjective responses, rated after pre and post sessions, were collected using a self-developed simulation game training questionnaire. It showed that they supported the effect of simulation game training on performance.On the basis of the result of this research, it can be concluded that simulation game training has a significant effect on the goal conversion ratio of players in one-on-one situations in football. This study hopes to assist football players at all levels, coaches, sports psychologists, athlete trainers and others in the development of football players who can convert breakaways to goals.

Key words: simulation, game, training, breakaways, football, avatar.



Title page                                                        i

Certification                                                             ii

Dedication                                                                 iii

Acknowledgement                                                    iv                    

Abstract                                                              vi

Table of Content                                                       vii

List of Tables                                                             x


Background to the Study                                                   1

Statement of problem                                                        4

Purpose of the study                                             5

Research questions                                                             5

Research hypotheses                                                                5

Significance of the study                                                   5

Delimitation                                                             6

Limitation of study                                                           6

Definition of key terms                                     7


History of simulation games                                    9

Commercial-off-the-shelf video games                10

Demands of soccer                                         11

Video games: sports video games                12

Mental models and information processing               13

Model matching and videogame enjoyment                15           

Game content design and manipulation          16

Models and modelling in game design        20

Role of failure                               21

Potential benefits and negative impacts of playing video games        22

Video games and cognition                              24

Mirror neuron theory                                       25           

Soccer expertise and gamification                             26

Metacognition                                                             27

Cognitive development space                                 28

Decision making in football and video games               29

Reaction time and speed accuracy                             30

Attention                                                                      30           

Perceptual skills                                                            31

Video games and relaxation                                32           

Video games and video analysis                            32

Self-efficacy                                                             35           

Learning through games                                            35


Research design                                                                        36

Population of the study                                                         36

Sample and sampling techniques                                     37

Research Instrument                                            37           

Research Procedure                                             38

Data analysis                                                      39

Pilot study                                                                    40


Demographic characteristics of respondents from experimental group                41

Testing of hypotheses                                  42

Discussion of findings                                           51


Summary                                                           52

Conclusion                                                                        52

Recommendations                                        53

Suggestions for Further Research                       54

References                                               55

Appendix                                                               63




Table 1                                                                 37

Table 2                                                                      39

Table 3                                                                      41

Table 4                                                                    42

Tables 5                                                                        42

Tables 6                                                                            44

Tables 7                                                                           44

Tables 8                                                            46

Tables 9                                                                46

Tables 10                                                      48

Tables 11                                                              48

Tables 12                                                         50

Figures 1                                                                         43

Figures 2                                                                           45

Figures 3                                                                       47

Figures 4                                                                49




Background to the study

Football is one of the most popular sports in the world played by many people, be they children or adults. In the streets of Lagos-Nigeria, children try to play the game of football using any spherical objects, older people talk about football matches that have been played or would be played, and young people discuss football players and matches. According to Haugaasen and Jordet (2012) in Freitas, Dias and Fonseca (2013) soccer is without doubt one of the most popular sports in the world, engaging millions and even billions of people worldwide as players, spectators and Television viewers. A survey by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) in 2006 reported that 265 million people regularly play soccer (FIFA, 2007), making soccer one of the most highly participated sports in the world. This global access to soccer requires an optimal performance from all players, to coaches and significant others, particularly, soccer players (Freitas et al., 2013).

Football, also called association football or soccer, game in which two teams of 11 players, using any part of their bodies except their hands and arms, try to maneuver the ball into the opposing team’s goal (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2016). Association Football: the game controlled by FIFA and organised in accordance with the Laws of the Game (FIFA, 2008). Football (soccer) is a team sport played between two teams of eleven players, and is widely considered to be the most popular sport in the world today (Onagbiye, 2009). Football is a fast paced sport that is very demanding. It is demanding both physically and psychologically. Players have to make short burst of runs, employ muscles with so much intensity to perform a skill.

Okeke (2009) as cited in Babikkoi, Razak, and Sulaiman (2012) observes that soccer in Nigeria has captivated the minds of the young and the young at heart. Sport competition has become so important in today’s society that extremely lofty expectations by others are placed on competing athletes regardless of competitors’ abilities, reasons for participation, and skill levels (Aufenanger, 2005). In the game of soccer or football, players manipulate space and time in order to score goals and to prevent their opponents from scoring (Burcak, 2015). Without strong technical skills, players will not be able to score goals (LA84 foundation, 2012). Fundamental techniques like passing, dribbling, heading, shooting and collecting are very important for all players, these techniques must develop and continually refine for the player to reach the desired performance level (Burcak 2015). These fundamental techniques are geared towards putting the ball behind the opponent’s goal. In a football match, goal is the pinnacle of the game (Leite, 2013). Goal scoring requires good technical skills and confidence beyond good ball control, shooting ability, balance and the ability to change direction quickly, a good finisher must be able to pull the trigger at the right time (LA84 foundation, 2012). Goal scoring is the aim of a breakaway situation. Breakaway is a one-on-one situation in which the goalkeeper is the last player between the attacker and the goal (LA84 foundation, 2012).  On close encounters, such as breakaways, a finisher is facing the opponent's goalkeeper in a one on one confrontation. Breakaways can come from counter attacks, organized attacks or from stopped play resulting in a goal (Leite, 2013).

Simulation games are models or representation of real life in three-dimension interactive computer applications. Simulation game according to Encarta Dictionaries refers to a computer game that simulates a real activity such as flying. Video games that simulate sports have become so realistic that some athletes use them to train (Coakley, 2008). Silberman (2010) stated that sports video games was a source of entertainment, but research has shown that sport video games are beginning to be used by some elite athletes to improve performance. Contemporary sport games are becoming more and more like simulations or models of real sporting events. The aim of simulation game is to re-create reality so that individuals can participate and in the process enjoy themselves and in some constructive cases they learn. Video games engage players in goal-directed actions within compelling virtual environments, they help players develop those mental models, or simulations of experience, in a more concrete and embodied sense than through mental imagery alone (Silberman, 2010).

Mental state of a player has a great part to play in his performance just as technical and tactical skills (Najah, & Rejeb 2015). The goal of sports psychology is to help soccer players and teams perform at their best by increasing their mental skills to excel in practice and games (Hitzelberger & Cohn, 2011). Adewunmi (2005) buttressed the point that pre-match readiness and mental training are some of the factors that can influence athletes’ performance because they make their mental state stable and improve performance. The objectives of improved performance in skills and tactics in football players is the goal of many schools and football academies. Goals and objectives such as these are very encouraging, but at the heart of it lies absence of structures that can realise these goals. Present day football has gone scientific, but here in Nigeria we have continued to use the old methods of training. Our young players are developed on the skills they provide without imparting to them the skills and techniques they need. It is more of concentrating on the talents possessed by players than on the development of a player who can compete with other talented players. There is an obvious absence of technology application to our game as it is used in developed countries. There is a resistance to the adoption of new methods of training. Our coaches and football administrators over the years have failed to realise the importance of sports technology in training.While developed countries are putting so much into providing excellent facilities, equipment and conducive environment for athletes, developing countries seem to lag behind in the provision of these amenities and expect their players or athletes to excel in the international arena (Awomah, Okakah & Arainwu, 2015).

The over-emphasis on coaching physical skills as against mental skills or psychological skills results in under-developed players. We may not be able to replicate the achievements of national teams of Germany (Germany spent eight years preparing a team that won the world cup in 2014). But the situation of sports in Nigeria is that, we want to achieve success immediately. For this reason, coaches are under pressure to deliver as soon as they can hence ignoring the importance of psychological training.

Many Nigerian football clubs in the Nigeria Professional Football League who have feeder teams focus more on the physical training. These clubs should at least be the breeding ground for the development of another Rashidi Yekini, Austin Jay Jay Okocha or another Finidi George. These were exceptional Nigerian footballers who were known for their talents, although as younger players they were not exposed to a proper developmental programme. If they had been trained by a team of football experts in Psychology, Nutrition, Biomechanics, and then the football coaches they would have become world best footballers. Nigerian Players, especially attackers, lack composure, confidence, decision making and awareness when running towards the goal in a counterattack. This shows in the number of goals that our strikers can score every season. While their counterparts from other countries are scoring goals in double digits in the first half of the league, our players barely manage to score nine goals. Nigerian players many at times fail to convert crucial one on one situations with the goalkeeper resulting in their teams being knocked out of a competition, or struggling to go to penalty shootouts. In a FIFA Confederations cup match between Nigeria and Spain in 2013, Gambo Mohammed, a Kano Pillars striker, missed a breakaway chance after receiving a very good pass from Ahmed Musa. Mohammed took a shot that went wide off the goal. Mohammed could have scored the goal if he was calm, composed, confident in his abilities, and if he was thinking fast. If he had scored against Casillas, the Spanish goalkeeper, in the virtual world, it may have helped him to score again against Casillas in the real world.

An explanation for the apparent disconnect between formal or traditional training and the target of our attention is that young players of today are different from their predecessors. They would appreciate innovative and enjoyable learning scenario which would also enhance performance. Hence, the goal is to discover a technology that has been abandoned due to its perceived danger but which has the potential of bringing about success following its effective use. A technology that would enhance the goal conversion ratio of young players in one on one situations. The primary focus of this study therefore, will be on the effect of simulation game training on breakaways in football among football academy players in Lagos state.

Statement of problem

It has been observed over the years that Nigerian attackers fail to score many goals when presented with opportunities, compared to their colleagues from European and South American countries. This is as a result of poor decision making skills, lack of concentration and absence of information processing abilities. In a match between Etoile du Sahel Football club and Enyimba International in 2016, Mfon Udoh - Enyimba’s striker - failed to score from a breakaway in the closing stages of the second leg tie. If he had scored, Enyimba won’t have needed penalty shootouts to qualify for the next round.

The players in Nigeria are not exposed to modern technologies for developing physical, cognitive and perceptual skills, used in other developed parts of the world. For this reason there are players who can just do enough on the football field but not up to their capacity. Players do not have the information processing abilities that many players in Europe have because of the absence of modern training methods (Ali, 2011).

Although many Nigerian children play simulation games, it has not been used as a tool to enhance sports performance rather it has been condemned as a waste of time. Many within the mass media, parent groups, politicians and even some academics, do not view video games in any positive light as they argue that video games lead to a generation that is antisocial, over-weight, unhealthy, and aggressive (Crawford & Gosling, 2009). The players’ failure to use technologies like the simulation video games might result in the development of Players who cannot convert breakaway opportunities to goals because they lack the necessary cognitive and perceptual skills.This study is on the effect of simulation games training on converting breakaway situations in football to goals among football academy players in Lagos state.

Purpose of the study

The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of simulation games training on breakaways in football. The researcher strove to determine the effect simulation games will have on football players in one-on-one situations with goalkeepers with a view to guiding them in converting presented chances to goals.

Research questions

1.      Will training with player’s avatar have effect on breakaway situations in football?

2.      Will training with a pre-determined avatar have effect on breakaway situations in football?

3.      Will free training have effect on breakaway situations in football?

4.      Will simulation game training have effect on the experimental groups compared to the control group?


Research hypotheses

The following hypotheses were tested in this study:

1.      Training with player’s avatar will not have significant effect on breakaway situations in football.

2.      Training with a pre-determined avatar will not have significant effect on breakaway situations in football.

3.      Free training will not have significant effect on breakaway situations in football.

4.      Simulation game training will not have effect on the experimental groups compared to the control group.


Significance of the study

The study will be of significance to football coaches and grassroots football development programme of the Nigeria Football Federation in the application of structured modern footballer training technology to the training and development of young footballers. It would be of benefit in the talent development programme of the federation. It will also be of significance in the development of young players in Nigeria who can compete against their peers in other parts of the world without our having any recourse to using over-aged players to prosecute major international youth competitions. In the long run we will have players (especially attackers) who can contest with the best in the world in terms of number of goals scored every season. This study would encourage the application of science to football in Nigeria.

It will benefit young strikers in their quest to become top goal scorers thereby increasing their availability for transfers to football clubs in Nigeria and in Europe. The local clubs would appreciate the application of psychology of football to their teams. The goal ratio of Nigerian football strikers would increase as they would apply decision making skills in one on one situations with goalkeepers. It will serve as a baseline study for those who may wish to carry out research on simulation game training.


The study was delimited to:

1.      Two football academies in Lagos -Real Planet Football club and Golden Football club.

2.      Two Research Assistants who are academy coaches guided the participants and gave them instructions during the matches. Two other research assistants helped in video recording, setting up video games and other basic activities.

3.      Simulation game training.

4.      The soccer players of the two football academies:Real Planet Football club and Golden Football club.


Limitation of study

The researcher encountered time constraint due to time table of the clubs. The absence of two players from training activities affected the study. The availability of power supply also affected the study since the researcher made use of computer games. Researcher solved this by renting a mobile game centre, although it was very expensive.

Definition of key terms

Player’s Avatar: this is the created virtual self of the player that bears all his physical characteristics.

Pre-determined avatars: all the virtual athletes in the sports video game that represent the real life professional athletes.

Free training: this is simply playing matches on the sports video game without any instructions from researcher.

Simulation game: this refers to computer games that are interactive, combine sound and graphics, played by making images move on a screen.

Breakaway: a one-on-one situation in which the goalkeeper is the last player between the attacker and the goal.

VGPs: Video game players.

NVGPs: Non-Video game players.

Three-Dimension Interactive computer application: a computer software application that allows the user to control the three-dimension graphics it displays on the monitor.

Elite athletes’ video games: sports video games that feature professional athletes, example: Marco Reus, Anthony Martial and Eden Hazard are professional players who will be featured in Electronic Art’s FIFA 17.

Sports: institutionalized physical activities that are governed by rules and demand physical exertion from its participants, whose participation is rewarded either intrinsically or extrinsically.

LA84 Foundation: Los Angeles 84 sports promotion organization in the United States of America. Innovator in youth sports and coaching, providing financial support to organizations providing youth sports opportunities.

FIFA: Fédération Internationale de Football Association.

FIFA 16 disc: a sports video game disc that is inserted into a console or Personal Computer.

ESA: Entertainment Software Association is an organisation that provides information on developments in the video game industry.

MMORPG: Massively Multi-media Online Role Playing Game

COTS: Commercial-Off-The-Shelf video games feature real-life sports athletes.

NASCAR: National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing.

3D-MOT: Three-Dimension Multiple Object Tracking application for training memory, attention and decision making skills.

Chip shot: this is kicking the ball over the goal keeper when he comes out of his lines.

Going-round keeper: it involves faking a shot that beats the goal keeper by leaving him rooted in his spot in order for player to have a clear sight at goal.

Square-pass: a pass to an open man after drawing goalkeeper to yourself.

Placing the shot: shooting to either bottom corners of the post just when the goalkeeper is about to leave his spot.

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