The late Phil Walsh was the smartest footy person I’ve ever met. His preparation and opposition scouting were unrivalled.
Walshy loved stats. And one in particular. Ground ball gets!
In his short time as coach of the Crows, his side’s ability to win the ground ball was always on the tip of his tongue.
A concerned Walsh once told his players they’d be forced to “jump off the jetty” if their ground-ball differential — a statistic which combines hard and loose-ball gets — didn’t improve.
“It’s critical. We’ve lost the last two weeks. I told the boys we’d jump off the jetty if we lose again this week,” Walsh said.
Well they did lose that week. Walshy was true to his word and the Crows took the plunge into the icy waters at 5am on Monday morning.
“There are some consequences on non-negotiables," were his words.
We now live in a stats dominated competition where everything is measured, but have we gone overboard?
Ask Malcolm Blight and he’ll tell you the only stat that matters is the scoreboard. After he ponders that for a moment he goes on to say, “Oh and inside 50’s…inside 50’s are pretty important too.”
Metres gained, hit outs, hit outs to advantage, first possession, spoils, tackles, broken tackles, disposal efficiency, hit rates, rebound 50’s, marks, back transition efficiency, forward 50 efficiency, contested marks, intercept marks and everyone’s favourite...clangers, just to name a few.
A coach’s job is to determine which stats are trash and which stats are treasure.
I’m sick of them all! Every week we hear players and coaches front the media and boldly declare that they need to win the contested ball.
Give me a dollar every time you hear that this year and I won’t buy another three quarter full skinny cap!
Contested ball is even an overrated stat!