Attack Origination

One of the new metrics introduced during the 2014 Championship was the tracking of where attacks originated. It was not captured in the expectation of finding something but rather an exploratory piece just to gain some more insight into how a game flows. It is important to state that what this does not do is track how effective teams are with the ball. It is more a measure of whether a team’s ability to defend an attack is dependent on where the attack originates.

Attack Origination

Origination Attacks % of attacks
Own kickout 451 31%
Opp kickout 253 18%
Own 3rd 426 30%
Mid 3rd 153 11%
Opp 3rd 54 4%
Other 99 7%

Own, Mid & Opp all relate to gaining the ball from turnovers in a specific area of the pitch. Other includes gaining the ball from retrieving your own team’s wayward shot, throw ins etc.
Own 3rd = inside your 45, Opp 3rd = inside the opposition’s 45 whilst Mid 3rd is the area in between the two 45s.

A couple of things immediately pop out.

Just under half of all attacks originate from kickouts with 31% coming from your own kickout. Kickouts are one of the few set plays within the game and an ability for a team to direct how primary possession is to be delivered. It is of course essential that teams win this primary possession – but they must also have a plan for what happens next. Too often the focus is on who “won” possession rather than what teams did with that possession.

The vast majority of turnovers that turn into an attack originate inside your own 45. This is in no way surprising as that is where the majority of attacks are engaged – it also includes all those shots that drop short – but it still shows the value of your transition game.

Shot success by Origination

Attacks Shots Shot rate Scores Score rate
Own kickout 451 347 77% 187 54%
Opp kickout 253 200 79% 99 50%
Own 3rd 426 331 78% 169 51%
Mid 3rd 153 121 79% 54 45%
Opp 3rd 54 47 87% 30 64%
Other 99 86 87% 48 56%

The general homogenous nature of the shot rate (apart from when you turn over the ball inside the opposition’s 45) is a surprise.

I would have expected that balls turned over in the middle 3rd would have caught the defending team in less of a defensive set and thus made getting a shot off easier. This does not appear to be the case and is further confused by the fact that the shots that are taken are of a much poorer nature with only 45% converted. Could it be that after winning the ball rather than drive at the opposition the first thought is to secure the hard won possession and thus allow the defence to stream back? This would account for the similar shot rates but not necessarily the poorer score rate.

The shot rate for balls won from either your own or the opposition’s kickout is very similar. This in a way feeds into the strange homogenous nature of the shot rates. At a macro level you are going to gain possession from the opposition’s kickout further up the pitch than your own – plus if you win the opposition’s kickout they are more likely not to be in their full defensive set (anticipating winning their own kickout themselves). The fact that more shots are not eeked out from winning the opposition’s kickout is again slightly surprising.

Teams score 4% more of the time from shots that originate from the opposition’s kickout. Whilst an increase of 4% might be within any margin of error it does make sense in the aforementioned context of the defence not being as set on their own kickouts.

Shot success by Origination

Kerry Donegal Mayo Dublin Other
Attacks % all attacks Attacks % all attacks Attacks % all attacks Attacks % all attacks Attacks % all attacks
Own kickout 44 22% 25 18% 31 19% 45 21% 110 15%
Opp kickout 50 25% 51% 36% 42 26% 60 28% 248 34%
Own 3rd 59 29% 51 36% 41 26% 54 25% 221 31%
Mid 3rd 28 14% 7 5% 21 13% 24 11% 73 10%
Opp 3rd 4 2% 1 1% 12 8% 14 7% 23 3%
Other 17 8% 7 5% 12 8% 16 8% 47 7%

As ever on these pieces Donegal are the outlier. As a result of not engaging outside their own 45 only 6% of their attacks originated from turnovers further up the pitch. This compares with an average of 13% with returns of 15% (Kerry), 21% (Mayo) and 18% (Dublin) for the other semi-finalists.

Donegal were also very reliant on attacks from their own kickout. There is a concertina effect here as the relative lack of attacks from turnovers further up the pitch places more emphasis on the remaining categories however the ratio of attacks for Donegal from their own kickout to the opposition’s is 2:1. This is in line with the non semi finalists average of 2.3:1. The other top teams were much better at attacking the opposition’s kickout with ratios of 1.1:1 (Kerry), 1.4:1 (Mayo) and 1:3.1 (Dublin)

It is this, attacking the opposition’s kickout and getting opportunities from same, that might be one of the key strengths of the “better” teams.


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