The 2022/23 season is nearing its end in all the major leagues in Europe and one of the most conclusive statistics on the evolution of football and the influence of data as a player in the industry is coming to an end. Last December we made an in-depth analysis collecting average shot distance data as an indicator of the evolution of the game. And the data collected this season not only continues the trend but shows that the average shot distance to goal has shortened much faster than in the previous seven years. And it is obviously at an all-time low.
In the article we told how football was following the opposite path to NBA basketball, whose offensive space had doubled. From pivots who dominated the backboards as the main offensive action to the present day, in which three-point shooting has emerged as the great offensive weapon. But that made sense, beyond the fact that the difficulty was, in theory, greater. The reward was greater, with three points instead of two, and the line was moved forward from 7.23m to 6.25m.
Nine months later, the gap has narrowed, especially in the Premier League, which has already exceeded the 16-metre average distance and now stands at 15.9 metres on average. In just eight years, the Premier League has reduced the shooting distance by three metres. A championship, and by extension English football as a school and culture, which has always been a flagship of long-range shooting and which has let in certain ideas and methods that have made the whole game much more elaborate.
Spain’s La Liga, the championship that has always averaged the least distance in its shooting, has moved at a slower pace since 2015, but this season it is averaging 17 metres per shot. The homogenisation of the game, ‘the fault’ of different tactical correlations and ways of organising has ended up being transferred to all kinds of competitive contexts.
Serie A, which between 2015 and 2017 was close to 19 metres on average, has reduced the distance by one metre since 2021, a very considerable figure that explains the trend and evolution marked by statistical and probability models such as Expected Goals, which take into account the history of shots and a multitude of variables that certify that there is a much greater probability of hitting the target the closer you are to the goal.
As we can see in the graph above, there is a before and after this season as the average shot distance is doubling the rate of reduction. The teams are working much more on all the previous processes, installing the idea that any player has to be involved in a multitude of aspects of the game. In every attack, the protagonists prefer to give a pass that brings them closer to the box rather than try their luck from a far distance, from where it is very difficult to find a reward.
Founded in 2017 as a consultancy, Driblab has driven innovation through data across all aspects of professional football. Thanks to a transversal model, its database collects and models statistics in all directions. From converting matches and videos into bespoke data for training academies to developing cutting-edge technology, helping clubs, federations and representative agencies in talent scouting and transfer markets. Driblab’s smart data is used by clubs all over the world, with success stories such as Dinamo Zagreb, Real Betis or Girondins de Bordeaux. Here you can learn more about how we work and what we offer.