Zonal Kick-out Analysis

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Counting who has won and lost kick-outs has become a virtually useless, if not counter-productive statistic. Many sides are now happily allowing the opposition to play short kick-outs.

What is significant is the circumstances under which different kick-outs are being won and lost, and more importantly, what the net outcome is.

As tactics have evolved, this is probably the key piece of analysis in the game, as it tends to illustrate startling patterns relating to score/score concession rates with different types of kick-outs, which can inform decision making on kick-out selection with potentially massive gains for teams.

How it works

This analyses the outcome of kick-outs based on the time it takes from the ball going out of play to being kicked out and the area of the field, based on the layout of the field at the time.

So every kick-out is bracketed into one of two time zones and three areas. The figures our analysis have shown to be the most significant cut off points are 9.5 seconds to the full back line, 11.5 seconds to the half back line and 12 seconds to midfield.

So this leaves you with six categories of kick-out ; to the full back line inside 9.5 seconds, to the full back line outside 9.5 seconds, to the half back line inside 11.5 seconds, to the half back line outside 11.5 seconds, to midfield inside 12 seconds and to midfield outside 12 seconds.

It counts, not alone, whether the team who have won the kick-out have scored, but whether the opposition score upon the first turnover. To that end, we’ve found some startling patterns.

Quick kick-outs to the full back line : We have yet to find a side we’ve analysed for more than two games who haven’t made a net profit on these kicks.

Slow kick-outs to the full back line : Kerry under √Čamonn Fitzmaurice (and probably under other managers too), St.Vincent’s under Tommy Conroy and Ballymun Kickham’s under Paddy Carr, excluded, we have yet find a side who haven’t made a loss in these looking at quarter final stages of championships and beyond. This includes the Dublin team on 2016 figures.

Quick kick-outs the half back : With the right keeper, these can be highly profitable. With the wrong keeper, they can be a disaster.

Slow kick-outs to the half back line : These have shown to be a disaster across the board. Apart from the fact that only around 70% reach their own team, even where they do, it tends to allow the opposition to get 13 men behind the ball. They are proven time and time again to be very costly net losers. Teams are far more likely to concede scores on gifting the ball to the opposition in a dangerous position, or upon turnover after their own attack has broken down when they do gain initial possession.

We have yet to see a side who haven’t made a net loss on these. That includes Dublin with probably the best kicker in the game delivering the kick-outs to the most athletic and best team in the game, based on 2016 figures from the quarter finals on.

Quick kick-outs to midfield : Pretty difficult to manoeuvre, but from our limited figures to date, they appear to be resulting in massive net profits. This, of course, makes perfect sense as you bypass the opposition’s forward line rapidly.

Slow kick-outs to midfield : Once the overwhelmingly dominant kick-out, figures on this obviously swing radically depending on the fielders in question and the respective abilities of the teams.


It’s worth noting that the Zones are not rigid. There are three areas ; full back line, half back line and midfield, but depending on the amount of players taken out of the play by the kick-out, there are mixed zones which will fall into one of two categories depending on this factor.

Football Zonal kick-out Yaro

Yellow or inside the 20 metre line is always the full back line.

Light orange is the full back line if it doesn’t take out more than two opposition players. If it takes out more than two, it’s the half back line.

Mid orange is always the half back line, between 22 metres and 32 metres from the kick.

Dark orange is midfield unless it only takes out four opposition players in which case it’s the half back line.

Dark brown is always midfield.

*The full pitch is scaled to Croke Park dimensions, 88 metres wide. The pitch inside the dotted black lines is scaled to the most common club pitch, 80 metres wide*