Posts Tagged ‘Ground’

Frees from the Ground or the Hand; (’12 – ’15)

January 25, 2016

An article by Martin Breheny during the week had a pop at Mickey Newman for not taking a 35m free from the ground (it’s the O’Byrne cup. In January!).

Kevin Egan (@lonesharkoy on twitter and a great read in his betting columns for betswot) bemoaned the fact that the article was based on a sample size of one. One! And that maybe, just maybe, Newman might know what’s best for him when taking a free.

This is old ground. Conversion rates for frees from the hand and the ground were covered in two early pieces (see here and here). Just like now the catalyst for the original piece was commentators bemoaning the lack of a particular skill. The Breheny article, and discussion on Twitter in its aftermath, got me curious as to whether the results of the initial study had changed at all now that we had so much more data.

The short answer is it hasn’t. Overall players convert frees from the hand at a 20% rate better than from the ground.


Attempts Scores Success Rate
From the Hand 789 623 79%
From the Ground 405 239 59%


That 20% gap is a bit sensationalist. Where frees are taken from does have an impact on overall conversion rates. The majority of frees (78%) taken from outside the 45 are taken from the ground. Frees from outside the 45 are converted at a relatively paltry 38% so including these will automatically dampen the results for frees from the ground. If we exclude theme does it change anything?


Attempts Scores Success Rate
From the Hand 753 608 81%
From the Ground 281 193 69%


The answer is yes and no. Yes the difference between the two is narrowed significantly but the central tenet holds true – players are better at converting from the hand than they are from the ground. Indeed the gap has grown slightly from three years ago when similar splits saw results of 79% from the hand and 68% from the ground.

Shot attempts are further segmented by sector (see sector breakdown here) so we are able to take a more granular look.


Sector From Ground From Hand
4 58% 63%
5 81% 84%
6 51% 70%
7 72% 79%
8 96% 98%
9 78% 80%


Frees from the hand not only outperform those from the ground but do so in all sectors. Including, perhaps a touch surprisingly, the very central ones. I say surprisingly because with frees out wide I can understand how players taking them from the hands make it easier on themselves by stealing a few yards. That doesn’t really enter the equation with the more central ones.

As stated in 2013 I have no problem with people lamenting the loss of a skill but surely Mickey Newman, or any free taker, knows the best way to approach any particular free? The fact that the numbers back up using your hands is just a nice happenstance.

What’s the betting we will be revisiting this in 2017?


Frees; From the Ground or the Hand – Updated

December 19, 2012

Back at the start of Summer I wrote a piece (here for background detail) about an interesting trend I had spotted; namely that frees from the hand, contrary to popular opinion, were outperforming frees from the ground.

In the back of my mind I did wonder if the mix of games I had charted had somehow skewed the results. I had charted one full season and the early parts of another season. Had this led to more ‘lower grade’ games thus perhaps capturing more below average free takers?

As such I revisited the numbers after two full seasons (I think we’re over 60 games now) and … the gap has increased!

The table below shows that 61% of frees from the ground are converted whilst 77% of frees from the hand are converted. The initial post had shown a 63%-75% split.

Shots Scores Success Rate
Ground 304 185 61%
Hand 439 336 77%

Before proceeding just another quick reminder of how the pitch is segmented

GAA pitch

In the earlier study there was a discrepancy between shots inside and outside the 20m line with frees from the ground inside the 20m line outperforming frees from the hand. The reverse was true outside the 20m line. This is no longer the case.

One interesting point to note is that, despite the wider trends, frees from the ground right in front of the posts (sectors 5 & 8) outperformed frees from the hand. The easier the frees the better you are in placing the ball on the ground. The wider out the pitch you go the better you are taking the free from the hand.

Emmet Ryan over at the action81 website posited that perhaps the ability of free takers to steal a few yards, whilst taking frees from the hand outside the 20m line, might explain why the returns are better for this method out on the wings. This is by far the most plausible reason as to why this could occur. It could also be that players taking frees from the ground are straining for distance/accuracy and that this is upsetting a well honed regimen. It is going to be very hard to (dis)prove either however.

For now we’ll just have to contend ourselves with the knowledge that, irrespective of the reason, your free taker is better taking his shots from the hand.

Segment From Shots Scores Success Rate
4 Hand 68 46 68%
Ground 53 25 47%
5 Hand 100 82 82%
Ground 55 49 89%
6 Hand 73 47 64%
Ground 62 30 48%
20m to 45m Hand 241 175 73%
Ground 170 104 61%


Segment From Shots Scores Success Rate
7 Hand 46 34 74%
Ground 12 10 83%
8 Hand 90 83 92%
Ground 23 23 100%
9 Hand 28 27 96%
Ground 24 18 75%
inside 20m Hand 164 144 88%
Ground 59 51 86%

Frees; From the Ground or the Hand

June 16, 2012

I have heard both Martin Carney & Martin McHugh lament the fact that the art of taking a free kick from the ground is passing. That teams are harming their own prospects by not cultivating a kicker who can take a free from the ground. Their argument, and one that I would suggest is generally accepted, is that taking frees from the ground is more constant. There are less moving parts thus the motion should be more repetitive. More repetitive leads to more reliability which leads to a better success rate (for some reason I have rugby kickers in my head as I write that).

Is this the case??

In entries to date I have noted the results of “deadballs”. This includes all shots from Sidelines, 45s, penalties and free kicks. Sidelines (from the hand) and 45s (from the ground) are the extreme of both cases; they have been omitted as they would probably skew the results. Similarly I have omitted penalties as I’ve yet to chart a missed penalty. Therefore we’ll look at all frees where a shot was attempted and monitor the success rates of those taken from the ground versus those taken from the hand.

Shots Scores Success Rate
Ground 255 160 63%
Hand 282 211 75%

Hmmm. Frees from the hand are more successful than frees from the ground. That’s not a small sample size either; it’s unlikely to be overly affected by one very good (or very bad) free taker. The immediate counter argument I would expect is that frees from the ground are taken from harder positions on the pitch thus there is a bias inherent in looking at the whole population. Luckily we segment the pitch so below are the results for frees inside the 21m line and frees between the 21m & the 45m line.

Segment From Shots Scores Success Rate
4 Hand 46 33 72%
Ground 43 20 47%
5 Hand 59 47 80%
Ground 52 46 88%
6 Hand 46 27 59%
Ground 50 26 52%
21m to 45m Hand 151 107 71%
Ground 145 92 63%
Segment From Shots Scores Success Rate
7 Hand 33 23 70%
Ground 9 8 89%
8 Hand 54 49 91%
Ground 22 22 100%
9 Hand 21 21 100%
Ground 17 14 82%
inside 21m Hand 108 93 86%
Ground 48 44 92%

Frees from the ground show a slightly better return inside the 21m line but overall the success rate for frees from the hand inside the 45m line is better than those taken from the ground (77% Vs 70%)

I have no problem with people pining for the loss of a particular skillset within the game (the midfield ‘fetch’ is one dying out with the advent of the shorter kick out routines) but call it what it is. Nostalgia. Don’t wrap it up in erroneous beliefs. There is no evident benefit to taking frees from the ground.