Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Lack of Stats in Ultimate- Is it Hindering Your Team?

Nation, (stealing Colbert's bit)

In terms of player evaluation (which was a large part of my masters studies), Ultimate is very much in its infant stages. As the game develops, I am sure that this will improve. However, as it stands, the selection process of players for teams or countries is quite simplistic. Have some tryouts. Watch the match-ups. Trust your minds eye.

The problem with the mind's eye is that it lies. We all love the teammate who can lay out and make d's. When we win, he/she gets a lot of credit. But over the course of a game, a tournament, a season, that d means a lot less in determining the outcome of our team's finish than our mind believes. Inefficient players who make lots of d's but also make too many drops and throwaways might be overrated by the time tested scouting system. Sadly, they sometimes get the edge in team selection over a more efficient, less flashy player.

Hey, if you can choose between almost equally efficient players, take the game breaking athlete! I just think we're currently unaware of how efficient our players are.

Teams are restricted by resources. It costs money and time to have games taped and analyzed. Player stats are not tracked even during tourney games for most competitive teams. Even worse, we sometimes hear the "stats are for nerds" line from the same people who say they'll seek any legal competitive edge to win. If you're too lazy to learn or stupid to fathom, just admit it and step aside. Insult gun back into its holster.

Improving player evaluation will take time. Someone will lead the charge and get an edge, and then others will try to copy the success. Look at baseball and Sabermetrics. Other pro leagues are trying to emulate baseball's "moneyball" ideas (Facing tougher challenges due to the organic nature of their sports).

How do we improve evaluation? Find someone/some way to track your teams stats. Develop working groups of ultimate players with the educational background to use the data.

I am more than willing to participate.


sharpie said...

Catch more, drop less, get turnovers.

Sport Management Steven said...


I Z your Z's buddy!

If your simple instructions made people better, than the value of a coach (and evaluate, as I was discussing) would be significantly decreased. I'm probably saying the same thing during/between games.

The problem with all sports is that many past players manage and coach with a similar mindset. In major league sports, these scouts and employees (They will never fully remove the Steve Yzermans for PR reasons) are slowly being taken out of power by younger, more rationale economic and management professionals. They are more efficient, and they look to find ways to evaluate and select players that give more bang for their buck.

Sadly, telling someone to "get turnovers' won't help you beat Furious.

"shoot straighter, run harder, conquer"
"Play the right way"

dEVIN said...

I definetely agree that the "right" stats are missing from our favourite game. I try to keep stats whenever possible--often hard to do in a sport where coaches tend to also play.

I have, however, helped out some other teams in the past, by coaching and taking stats. One women's team and one tournament in particular was quite impressive. With only a clipboard, graph paper and pencil, plus a one-year old boy on the sideline to watch...I focused on player +/- as well as completion percentages.

At the end of the day Saturday, I sat down with the captains and went over the stats. It was quite and eye-opener for them, as some of the players they thought were "stars" had a negative +/- when compared to the teams's +/-. Or were surpirsed by the completion ratio of many players.

One player in particular had a couple spectacular layouts--on D and O. But when examining the stats we show she had a huge negative +/- and her check often had a goal or assist. She was inconsistent but with a lot of flare.

Anyway, they changed things up a little for Sunday, but more importantly changed things over the next couple of practices and future tournaments.

Personally, I try to keep track of my own stats when playing. I am a solid/grinder player, always working hard, dependable, but seldom have any "flash". Usually, that's because I don't need to. I don't need to make some huge layout D becuase my check does not get thrown to, for example.

DJ said...

Stats would add a lot of value to the game. Have done stats on a ad hoc basis it really gives you a better perspective on "playing the odds" in certain situations. Jim of course has gone into detail on this subject over the past decade+.

As a line caller it gives me something to fire back at my team. The more info the better.

I think we need to start recruiting a couple water boys and a couple statisticians. A couple more years and my daughter can help out. (Ya right... a couple more years)

Blog looks great Steve. Keep it up.

DJ, gOat