The missing piece - Throw-ins

In football, set-piece scenarios are often considered as threatening and given considerable time towards mastering in the hope of positive outcomes. However, one piece teams often under value are throw-ins, particularly when they occur in the final third of the pitch. For example, from a total of 4034 only 86 were score, making it only a 2.13% conversion rate throughout the FA WSL.

When we convert that to a team based summary (Table 1), we find that only Arsenal converted more than 5% of their throws in the final third in to goals. This seems like a massive opportunity for teams to improve and possibly find an edge over their opposition.

Team Name Throws Goals Goal %
Arsenal WFC 426 17 3.99%
Chelsea FCW 463 13 2.81%
Manchester City WFC 363 11 3.03%
Bristol City WFC 283 9 3.18%
Reading WFC 397 9 2.27%
West Ham United LFC 357 8 2.24%
Birmingham City WFC 325 6 1.85%
Everton LFC 391 5 1.28%
Brighton & Hove Albion WFC 330 4 1.21%
Liverpool WFC 289 2 0.69%
Yeovil Town LFC 131 2 1.53%
Manchester United 155 0 0%
Tottenham Hotspur Women 124 0 0%
a Table 1: Team summary for goals from throws in the final third of the pitch.

So lets take a look at where all of Arsenal’s throws were in the final third of the pitch and try to pin point the ones that ended in a goal. First, let’s plot the throw in and which ones went forward or backwards.

Direction Throws
Backward 181
Forward 245

In summary, there are no patterns to forward or backward throws in terms of where they are performed on the pitch and without optical tracking or a freeze frame, we are unable to see where the opposition players were at the time of the throw, but let’s look at a couple of throws and plot the passes leading up to the shots and see what we can find.

This figure shows a couple of goals, where the start of the possession came from a throw in. These are two examples of how maintaining possession of the ball from a throw in can lead to a shot. In the left hand example, a possession of 8 passes occurred after the throw ending in two shots and a goal. Whilst the right hand example, had only two passes leading to the goal.

Here is an example of a team spending time on set play throw ins when close to the box and then trying them within the match:

This is an area where teams around the world might be able to find an added edge. But the time required may be too much for teams to afford during their regular training schedule that they often will focus on free kicks or corners.

Thanks must go to StatsBomb as always for the data.

Please leave a comment below if you enjoyed this, or any other of my posts. I would love to start a discussion on any of my posts going forward.


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