Blocks: The demonization of not working a pass

Ok, so we’re back on the block again here at Differentgame. It’s becoming a slight obsession of ours that we try to defend the block. We just don’t think they’re as bad as is generally made out.

Last time out we looked at the ratio of shots that were blocked from different shooting areas and theorised that for a shot to be blocked an attacker must at least be threatening goal in the defence’s mind.

We’ve read recently in articles and in discussion on Twitter that getting a shot blocked could be dangerous. That blocks lead to counter attacks and counter attacks lead to goals. Well we’ve got some data to test that theory. So we did.

First we needed to come up with a cut off point in terms of time. If a team gets it’s shot blocked dead on 83 minutes, for example, then at what point can you no longer say it’s a counter attack when the opposition shot comes in? We thought anything after 84 minutes would be too long. If a counter takes longer than a full minute you have to assume defensive position has been regained and you can no longer really blame your own poor shot choice for conceding a shot at your own end. We think that’s probably still too long but feel free to disagree (it may not matter too much as you’ll soon see).

We then ran into problems with our data. Only minutes are time-stamped. We have no seconds. It’s impossible to break it down to exactly within a minute because nowhere carries that data publicly.

To do a ‘proper’ job, we had to include shots made at t’other end in the same minute (in the above eg. those made on 83mins) and in the minute after (84 mins). That means we’ve ended up including opposition shots made within up to 2 mins after the original shot was blocked.

We looked at the first 2792 shots of last season. 744 of them were blocked. 56 ended up with the opposition having a shot within the next 2 mins. 4 of them (or 0.5% of original blocked shots) ended in goals for the opposition.

So, blocked shots from which areas led to counters? It was pretty equal between shots inside the box and outside.

Did the counters lead to good chances positionally for the opposition? They certainly did. Nearly half of the counters ended up with opposition shots inside the central area of the box. However, the conversion rate was down from 1 in 6 to nearly 1 in 10.

Even converted at an average rate though, it’s really not that dangerous to have your own shot blocked.

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One Response to Blocks: The demonization of not working a pass

  1. sid says:

    This is really revealing. Thank you for the article!

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