Evaluating The Surprise Onside Kick

Discussion of technique and strategy.

Evaluating The Surprise Onside Kick

by FenderGuy69 » Mon Oct 06, 2014 7:26 am

Interesting analysis upon the "Surprise" Onside Kick from Harvard Sports Analysis Collective.

http://harvardsportsanalysis.org/2014/1 ... side-kick/


Assuming that surprise onside kicks are as effective as they were between 2001 and 2010 as they are now, the stunt is successful 60% of the time. We’ll also assume that the average spot of recover is now the 50-yard line – five yards behind the line of recovery. The expected point value from midfield is +2.04 points if the kicking team executes a successful kick.

This expected point value is indeed much greater than kicking it away to the other team, which confirms my suspicion that surprise onside kicks have merit.

Obviously, teams should not try to execute “surprise” onside kicks every time they score. The element of surprise is not fixed – it is dependent on the number of times teams try to catch their opponents off guard, as is evident by the success rate of regular onside kicks: 9%. Therefore, the next – and key – step in this analysis is to see how low the probability of executing a surprise onside kick would have to fall so that it broke even with kicking off to the other team. This is a relatively simple calculation – just set the probability of success to x, and set the expected points value to -0.51 points. Solving this equation, we find that the probability of surprise onside kicks would need to drop to 37.5% to break even with the expected value of a normal kickoff.

Since the sample size for surprise onside kicks is so low, there’s no way to find out how frequent teams would need to try to surprise teams in order for the percentage to drop this low. But, until that saturation point is reached, one thing is clear: teams are missing out by not trying to throw in a little surprise into their kickoff plans.
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Re: Evaluating The Surprise Onside Kick

by beaglehound » Thu Oct 23, 2014 9:58 am

Interesting article Fenderguy. Thanks for posting it. :thup:
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