GEELONG once confounded opponents with its use of handball.

Between 2007 and 2010 the Cats became famous for flicking the ball about like confetti, regardless of whether they took possession in defence or were moving through the midfield.  

When they shared possession at pace they spun the opposition's head around so quickly many teams became frustrated and eventually turned on each other.

In 2010 Geelong's kick to handball ratio was an incredible 1.04 kicks for every handball.

Early in Saturday's game against the Sydney Swans, Geelong was at it again.

More from Peter Ryan's Numbers Game

At quarter-time the Cats had 62 kicks and 60 handballs, a kick to handball ratio of 1.03 (handballs): 1 (kick).

Mathew Stokes had nine handballs and one kick in that first quarter as he worked under packs to win the ball and farm it out to runners in space.

In between scoring its first and second goal, Geelong had nine handballs and two kicks.

By game's end Geelong had 226 kicks and 207 handballs for a kick to handball ratio of 1.09:1.

Since Geelong lost to Adelaide in round 17 it has dropped its kicks to handball ratio in 2013 from 1.29:1 to 1.27:1.

Geelong's kick to handball ratio against Adelaide was 1.54 but during the five weeks since that game it has been just 1.21:1.

In 2012, the Cats' kick to handball ratio was 1.40:1 and in three of its four losses in 2013 its kick to handball ratio has been above 1.30:1

On the surface it appears a trend but it is more likely Saturday's numbers were a good team responding to the way the Sydney Swans set up and finding a way to beat them rather than a late season shift from the Cats.

Let's face it, most teams handball more when they face the Swans.

However, what Geelong did, through pressure, was force the Swans into overdosing on handball. 

In the second quarter on Saturday, the Swans had 39 kicks and 51 handballs.
Even for a team with a low average kick-to-handball ratio in 2013 of 1.25 that is excessive.

The Swans began dishing off handballs like politicians hand out pamphlets. 

And that is what good teams can do: make opponents play in a style they least want to.

Under the Cats' pressure, the Swans recorded just eight inside 50s and one goal in that second term.

Last year's best and fairest winner Josh Kennedy best exemplifies the Swans' overuse of handball in recent times.

The most recent time he had more kicks than handballs was against Carlton in round 14. The next week against Melbourne he had just four kicks and 29 handballs.

On Saturday he had six kicks and 16 handballs. In the past eight games he has had 153 handballs and 67 kicks (an average 19.1 handballs and 8.3 kicks per game).

In 2012, when the Swans ran amok, he averaged 12.3 kicks and 16 handballs a game.

Geelong didn't deliberately set out to handball more on Saturday.

It assessed the situation and had the skills to decide what was required to beat its opposition.

That's all that is required at this stage of the year when scoreboard matters more than the style.