Motivation – The purpose of this study was to explore and describe the thought processes of football decision-makers in natural setting. Research approach – Twelve French football players were observed during a specially designed study favourising counter-attacks. Players then watched a videotaped recording of their performance and provided the researcher with a verbal description of their cognitive activity during the situation. Findings/Design – A content analysis conducted in context identified recurrent meanings produced by the experts and revealed the use of 16 schemata. Research limitations/Implications – Results highlight three aspects concerning experts’ decision-making processes: experts’ recognition of typical situations, the flexibility of schemata in decision-making, and the evolution of the activity on the basis of contextual cues. Originality/Value – Modele obtained has been used for the development of the virtual environment CoPeFoot (Collective Perception Football). Take away message – This study provides a deeper understanding of complex football decision-making activity during dynamical situation.