during the 2017 AFL Grand Final match between the Adelaide Crows and the Richmond Tigers at Melbourne Cricket Ground on September 30, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia.

Those that played junior football would have memories of their coach screaming from the sidelines to “go in harder,” or “kick the ball!”. Every good coach has a set game plan that they want their players to follow.

Whether it be racking up more contested possessions than the other team or running the ball for more metres, the coach is always trying to preach why their style of play helps the team win. Have you ever stopped to ask though, how often does the team that wins the contested possession count, win the game? Is it true that if your team were to get more hard-ball gets, would they win every time?

Here are the percentages of how many games a team won as they beat their opposition in a certain metric. The following numbers are from the 2117 games played between 2007-2017, courtesy of James Coventry’s Football Logistics. 

Metric Won or tied the metric Included ties
Kick 77.90% 1.40%
Inside 50 74.20% 2.70%
Uncontested possession 69.50% 0.70%
Contested possession 69.40% 1.80%
Mark 69.20% 1.10%
Gather 65.20% 5.80%
Loose-ball get 63.30% 3.80%
Contested mark from team 62.40% 10.00%
Clearance 61.00% 4.60%
Handball receive 60.90% 1.10%
Running bounce 59.60% 5.90%
Handball receive 58.90% 1.00%
First possession 57.30% 4.40%
Hard-ball get 56.20% 3.60%
Tackle 55.60% 2.50%
Contested mark from opposition 55.50% 13.00%
Hit-out to advantage 54.20% 7.50%
Smother 52.50% 10.90%
Free For 52.40% 7.60%
50-meter penalty for 51.60% 30.70%
Hit-out 51.40% 2.40%
Spoil 45.20% 4.40%
Rebound 50 39.40% 3.60%
Turnover 26.80% 4.10%


What every coach needs to look to do is encourage their players to kick the ball more. In over 77% of the games from 2007-2017, the winning team had equal to or more kicks than their opponents. It can’t be argued that a team needs to kick the ball in order to win games.

Secondly, the inside 50 count comes in with 74% of teams coming out victors in games where they have as many or more than their opponent. Uncontested and contested possessions are nearly identical both leading just over 69% of teams who record more than their opponents to victory.

Surprisingly, at the bottom of the list is hit-outs. Just over half the time a ruckman wins the contest between the big men does his team emerge victorious.