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Hit Outs and Possession

Each month they will be providing POLO+10 with an article based on game tactics with the use of statistics to back up their assumptions. This month’s area of focus is hit outs and possession.
Using Dartfish video analysis we are able to analyse key moments in a game from the touch of a button thus enabling us to monitor each player and teams performance at a more accurate level including set pieces.

From a sample of games of the Gold Cup last year we found the following results:
Hit Out Outcomes:
Hit to the Middle – 31%
Hit to the boards – 25%
Taken back across the field – 45%
These statistics were taken from each hit out of the games we analysed and calculated into a percentage in order to draw a fuller conclusion. The data we found clearly show that in the majority of hit outs the ball is taken back across the field, i.e. retained and dribbled by the player who took the hit out. This retaining of possession by the team bringing the ball to their defensive half of course brings with it a huge amount of risk therefore it was surprising to find. The question therefore is, is it a larger risk to take than offloading and passing it up the field though? The stats would say no, although some players and coaches may disagree. All these decisions and many more we are now able to identify and analysis using Dartfish.
Another notable piece of date we found was: 66% of steals occur in the defensive half. We found this statistic by ‘tagging’ the location of each steal by each team and then working out a percentage depending on where it took place out of the 6 zones on the field (defending 30,defending 60, defending half, attacking half, attacking 60, attacking 30). This statistic would imply that ‘taking the ball across the field’ is a high risk to take. So perhaps the best option to take at a hit-out would be to offload the ball and pass it to another player on your team as quickly and efficiently as possible?
All of these scenarios are of course entirely subjective, depending on where the opposition are stood, who is taking the hit out, etc. Dartfish technology allows you to play these key events individually, in detail thus removing the need to press fast forward or rewind as they are there for you at the touch of a button. As well as monitoring these key events, we can draw up statistics from the whole game giving insights into each player or team’s contribution.
As mentioned before possession is key, however it’s not only about retaining the ball for as long as possible it’s what each team/player does with the ball to hold on to it for so long. What decisions do players/team mates make about when to pass and when to keep dribbling, questions such as these and many more can now be answered.
Here is another interesting piece of data we found relating to possession: Teams with the most possession over the course of the game are 52% more likely to win. This statistic was found by calculating the time each team had in possession and whether there was a correlation between most possession and winning the game. Although the findings may seem obvious because in theory if a team has more possession or control of a game and the direction the ball is travelling in then they are more likely to win. Although it is over half, 52% is still not that convincing however what is interesting is that using Dartfish technology this can be broken down into further detail i.e. by chukka, field area, player in possession, etc. so that you can gain a much further insight into the movements of each team. With this information along with insights into passes, player contribution, territories, steals, etc. coaches are able to make further informed decisions on a team’s strategy, making video analysis a revolution in polo coaching.
About IPA
International Polo Academy (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. 
Video Analysis in Polo
Polo, like any sport, is a game of details. Having partnered with Dartfish, world leaders in Video Analysis for elite and Olympic sport IPA are working closely with teams from low goal to high goal, analysing their games using video analysis to study the game and identify key areas to improve performance. Through this analysis they are able to provide polo teams with statistical information from their games and also access to the key moments that make a difference, at the touch of a button.
For more information on the services IPA are offering and to access this cutting edge technology email or visit our website

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