Concerning “Packing”

The “Packing” and “Impect” concepts were introduced in Germany and the firm responsible can be found here:

This is a commercial organisation and they have introduced the concept with an aim of selling the data and insight to clubs. Therefore, in the unlikely event they ever found this inconsequential blog, they probably hate that I do this for Celtic matches for free. (If Mr Rodgers would like the data I would not be too difficult to deal with!). I have asked the company to comment on the approach below but, not surprisingly, I have had no reply.

If I must change the names of the concepts to avoid copyright breaches then fine, but under the spirit of imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, I believe they are fine concepts.

“Packing” and “Impect” are explained very well at Here’s my primer:

Packing A completed pass that, on receipt and control, has taken 1 or more opposition players out of the game. That is, they are now behind the ball relative to their own goal.
Pack Rate The total number of players taken out of the play by a completed “pack”.
Impect A value given to the players taken out of the play:

  • 3pts for every defender (taking defenders out the game is really good!)
  • 2pts for each midfielder (taking midfielders out the game exposes the defence)
  • 1pt for a pressing forward

The same principle applies to dribbling with the ball, except there is only the dribbler to credit as opposed to having a passer and receiver for a pass. All other passes that do not result in an opposition player being taken out the game get rewarded with – a pass completion of 1! So now all passes have a value AND we can see the connected relationships between players.

An example. Lustig passes to Forrest on the right, bypassing the centre forward and the wide midfielder:

  • Lustig gets 1 Packing Pass for the completed pass (rewards the vision and passing)
  • Forrest gets 1 Packing Receive for receiving the pass (rewards the movement and control)
  • Lustig and Forrest get Pack Rate of 2 for bypassing 2 opposition players
  • Lustig and Forrest get 3 Impect points for bypassing 1 x forward and 1 x midfielder (they have likely exposed the full back, so this is more effective than a pass in front of the opposition).

Given the excessive level of openness and transparency in Scottish football, and not wanting to disrupt that admirable culture, I wanted to share the criteria I use to evaluate passes. I welcome the wisdom of the crowd (that’s you) in improving these.

Packing Rules

Pass Pack

  1. Pass must be forward
  2. Pass must be complete
  3. Receiver must control the ball
  4. Pack count taken when
    1. receiver controls the ball
    2. faces forward with ball under control
  5. No pack recorded if:
    1. receiver miss controls the ball and loses it
    2. the receiver is immediately tackled
    3. the receiver controls the ball but is immediately put under such pressure that they lose it through challenge
    4. receiver passes ball straight back to around where it came from (i.e. no net progression)
    5. the receiver must immediately run backwards towards their own goal on receipt – only include any players by passed at the point of the receivers next pass
    6. the receiver offside
    7. passing around a forward making no effort to press – i.e. holding his position but by passed – you could pass around Kris Boyd all day long, and whilst this may be mildly amusing it doesn’t really help you score a goal
    8. midfielders on the opposite side to the pass where they are aligned in shape even if behind ball – ie they would reasonably be in position if ball played across to their side
    9. e.g. a throw in – if the receiver head flicks (or any flick) the ball on from the throw no pack recorded as the ball is never under complete control UNLESS the flick is also successful i.e. finds a teammate
    10. no pack recorded from Clearances – i.e. non-target specific forward balls into space
    11. If receiver gets ball wide behind the defenders but the defenders are aligned “correctly” to play offside, then do not count the defenders as “packed” since they are in organised defensive position
    12. If you have not disrupted the defensive shape and organisation even if there are players now behind the ball then no pack. For example, if midfielders hold their shape marking runners even if behind the ball. The picture below highlights both points above.

Dribble Pack

  1. Run must be forward
  2. The run must complete i.e. another action starts – i.e. a pass attempt; shot attempt; cross attempt following the run
  3. Count is number of players between goal at start of dribble minus at the end of the dribble event
  4. No pack recorded if:
    1. Player loses control of ball
    2. Player is tackled and loses ball, even if it is recovered
    3. Player runs ball out of play
  5. If player dribbles forward, turns and dribbles back then passes it is the number of players packed at the end of the dribble not the maximum passed during the dribble that is recorded.
  6. The dribbler does not need to take on and dribble past each player directly to get the full Impect score. The Impect Score is determined by the number of opposition players behind the ball after the completion of the dribble whether the dribbler has directly taken the ball past them or not. “Dribbled Past” as a defensive measure is recorded separately.

Pack Scoring

The principle is to reward any pass that by passes opposition players. By passing defenders is the most valuable action, midfielders less so and forwards less so again. Therefore, the “impect” of each successful pack is scored by summing:

  1. 3 points for every defender by passed
  2. 2 points for every midfielder
  3. 1 point for every forward

Positions are determined by position in formation e.g. 4-5-1 will have 4 x defenders, 5 x midfielders and 1 forward.

Therefore, for every pack event the following is recorded:

Passer Name of player passing
Receiver Name of player receiving
Dribbler If a dribble event then only the player name of the dribble
Defenders Packed Number of defenders by passed
Midfielders Packed Number of midfielders packed
Forwards Packed Number of forwards by packed
Impect Score Total value of the players packed as per the point allocation above.

For a successful pass and receipt the passer and receiver get the same Impect Score.

For a successful dribble only the dribbler receives the Impect Score.

This gives us a language and a framework to evaluate every pass. Given passes account for +75% of all on field actions, that feels like progress. It is NOT a “magic bullet” set of metrics. This doesn’t exist. But it is another context by which to evaluate performance and so it further enriches the analysis tool set.

C:\Users\Alan\Documents\Football\Celtic Stats Analysis\Images 16-17\armstrong cup final2.JPG

The Pack Man?

2 thoughts on “Concerning “Packing”

  1. Inconsequential or not, it is a great bridge of knowledge between the proffesional analysts ( I don’t mean TV pundits) and the under-informed football public, and I include myself in that group.

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