On Blocks

Here at Differentgame we’ve been intrigued by the humble block since we read this by @marktaylor0.

The discussion and debate continues about how much credit to give defenders for a block or how much we should debit attackers for being daft enough to try and shoot through gaps they really shouldn’t have.

@benjaminpugsley and @danny_pugsley were talking about blocks on Twitter the other day – specifically in relation to what kind of shots (in terms of where they’re taken from) get blocked most. We realised we had some data on it to share. Having just looked again, however, so did the great Mr Taylor almost a year ago!

Still, we’ll share our findings as the methodology’s slightly different. Here’s the % of shots from each area that are blocked:

BlocksGraphic copyThat’s taken from the first 2500ish shots of this season in the Premier League. It’s plainly far harder to block a shot from the most dangerous striking zone than it is from the angle or from distance. That’s why most goals are scored from there, right? If the player taking the shot is further out there’s likely to be more bodies in the way, yes?

We’ve thought about this an unhealthy amount over the last couple of days and have just gone round in circles. The way blocks are recorded isn’t helpful. There’s no real way of telling whether they were going in or not. We ended up simply saying that for a block to occur, the shot must have been dangerous enough, or at least seemed dangerous enough for a defender to have dealt with.

Why is it so damn hard to block a shot in the central area of the box? Does this mean the closer the shot is to goal the more the attacker is in control of the situation? We haven’t got the numbers but it seems likely that the majority of these shots are created from crosses or angled balls in. These are difficult to defend. A hit from distance is likely to occur when defences are set and the ball is in front of them.

We can merely speculate as to the reasons why for now, but it’s clear that all blocks aren’t born equal. What we can do with this information, however, is start to value each block more accurately depending on where the shot was taken from. Even then, though, a team’s quality and defensive style must be taken into account.

So that didn’t clear that up then…

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4 Responses to On Blocks

  1. biziclop says:

    My theory is that the more time defenders have, the more likely a block will be made. It sounds plausible, bordering the bleeding obvious, but we can test it.

    How much does distance from goal affect the number of blocks? The ball travels for longer, hence defenders should have more time to react. But that’s just one type of block, typically made from a bigger distance, roughly about five-ten yards away from where the shot was let loose from.

    Another factor is how long the shooting player had been in possession before the shot. Long dribbling sequences often end with a shot that is blocked at point-blank by a defender. For point-blank blocks distance shouldn’t be a factor at all, only length of possession.

    If the data confirms the above, I’m likely to be right. 🙂

  2. Pingback: Where do Blocked Shots originate from? | statsbettor

  3. Pingback: Blocks: The demonization of not working a pass | differentgame

  4. Pingback: Shots on Target Across the Big 5 Leagues | statsbettor

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