It’s not something you see as much of in Rugby. The place kicker (i.e. Johnny Sexton or Ronan O’Gara) take almost all the kicks at goal, with the possible exception if the kick is simply out of their range, but that is determined by distance rather than what side of the pitch it is. In Football we see a very different strategy – most teams seem to have a free taker depending on what side of the pitch the free is taken from. With that in mind and inspired by @marktaylor0‘s post on Rating Rugby Union Kickers I wanted to explore some of his points in Gaelic Football.
Does Kicking from your more natural side affect the success rates of kicks?
I have taken the most frequent place kickers from the last 2 years as the sample size – which gave me 25 free takers in total. Examining whether as a group these were more accurate from their natural side.
Here are the results.
So for Right footers there is a slight improvement (2.95%) when kicking from the left hand side of the pitch. Nothing dramatic but enough of a difference. The results are quite different for left footers however;
Here we see a much bigger increase in accuracy. 6.73%. Both images prove, to some degree, that there is an advantage to kicking from a more natural side. It’s by no means definitive and there are few other factors I want to explore but for now the evidence seems to suggest the reasoning for having 2 free takers.