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The stats behind throw-ins

From now on the International Polo Academy (IPA) provides POLO+10 as its new partner each month with a lot of polo know-how based on a variety of topics including game tactics with the use of statistics to back up their assumptions. The IPA is working with clubs, teams and players around the world, supplying a range of quality services to help improve the level of service, performance and enjoyment of the sport. This month’s area of focus is based around throw-ins and their influence on the game.
The sample of data the IPA are using is from the Gold Cup 2012 games and reflects what happens in high goal polo in the UK. Whilst the figures will be different in lower levels the data the IPA is using gives an interesting insight in to last year’s playing patterns.

The goal of this article is to illustrate that throw-ins can ultimately make or break a team’s game. Indeed “throw-ins won or lost” is the statistic that in many ways tells the story of the game. The overall statistics say that throw-ins happen more often than any other set piece (i.e. Penalty 5B, Spot hit, Hit out, etc.). On average there are a total of 25 throw-ins per game – that’s double the amount of hit-out’s. That bring us to the question: Does winning throw-ins mean you will win more games? Because there was a 62 percent probability of a team winning their game having won the most amount of throw-ins during a game. What brings to the assumption that winning the throw-in lead to more scoring opportunities. It is true that there are generally as many shots at goal as the there are throw-ins. On average there were 25 shots at goal from open play in each game (This excludes penalty opportunities). After a throw-in has occurred there is a 40 percent chance of a shot at goal from open play occurring within 45 seconds of the ball being thrown-in. Depending on a team’s particular stats, it is a fair conclusion that defending teams need to anticipate. This could, for example, prompt players to leave the throw in quicker in order to defend. Likewise this statistic could encourage teams to attack more at throw in time.
This brings to the next question: Do throw-ins lead to penalty scoring opportunities (fouls in relation to throw-ins)? As a result there were on average 19 fouls per game. Within 30 seconds of the ball being thrown in there was a 32 percent chance of a foul occurring – or one in three times. So it is a fair conclusion that teams should focus on their discipline around the throw in. As you might expect, particular players are more likely to come out of the throw in with the ball. The player with the number one has a chance of 18 percent, the player with the number two a chance of 19 percent, while the number three has a chance of 27 and the the number four a chance of 36 percent.
This statistic is perhaps the most predictable given the trajectory and force placed on the ball from the umpire who throws the ball in. But this statistic could influence which player each team places at the back of the line out. Do they put their best passer or player who is best under pressure? Or do you put the player with the horse with most acceleration? In conclusion we can say, that the team that wins the most throw-ins, wins more games. The knock-on effects of winning throw ins are increased shots at goal/goals and fouls.
Further you might asked yourself how do teams win throw-ins, instead of trying to win throw-ins should teams prepare themselves better for the subsequent plays or which player number usually win throw-ins? All these questions can be answered from Dartfish technology via email (, on Facebook or Twitter. For more services and to access this cutting edge technology email at

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