Monday, March 25, 2013

Competitive Data v. Statistics

For those readers who own a copy of "A Pane in the Glass: A Coach's Companion", you'll know there's an article in the manual about this topic. I'm unlikely to say much new here but I do want to reprise this topic for those who have not yet made the purchase (and in turn supporting "The Sandra Schmirler Foundation").

To say I'm not fond of "statistics" is like saying a fish would rather not travel on a bicycle. Statistics, when gathered expertly and analyzed in a similar way can be very helpful over time. For example, after 20 or 30 games, if a shooting statistic reveals that a player is shooting 80% on out turn hits and 60% on in turn hits, well, I'm guessing there's a technical challenge with those in turn hits, duh! In the preparation phases of training, statistics can be useful and in some cases reveal a trend that might not be so obvious just watching the games. The key word is "trend".

Trends resulting from decisions the team makes are also very revealing. For example, does your team win more games coming home one down with last rock as opposed to coming home one up without last rock? Do you have more success ignoring a CL (centre line) guard when you have last rock advantage by drawing to the open side or playing the "bump tick" than by drawing around the CL guard? Do you subscribe to "Bill's 25% Rule" and never blank an end for the sole purpose of scoring a multiple score the next time you score? If so, how's that working out for you? How 'bout drawing around corner guards on the "short side" (between the guard and the side board) as opposed to the more conventional manner (drawing around the wide side)?

I could spend a good deal of time posing questions about the choices your team makes relative to their outcomes. The resulting data is what I call "competitive data". Clearly there's an element of statistics to competitive data but I hope I've illustrated that they are not synonymous.

And where do you record "competitive data", why in your "Team Bible" of course!

Teams that have a very myopic view of the way they play lose out on this valuable resource. If you play the same way game-in-and-game-out, regardless of your success ratio, you're handing your future opponents a valuable weapon to use against you. They know exactly what you're going to do and how you're likely to react to what they do against you. Now, if what you do is so superior to your opponents that the point made above is moot, then fill your boots, you're either very skilled or very fortunate.

If you've followed my posts of late you'll know that there have been comments re. some of the strategic scenarios about which I've written. "What Do I Do With Lead Stones" (02/20/13) has set a record for the most widely read post to date. What you don't know are the number of emails I've received about how the sender's team deals with the topic of the post. So often my reply to the sender uses the phrase "competitive data". It's the way(s) your team plays the game. Record how you play and the rate of success. To not do so is folly!

1 comment:

  1. This post reminded me of a great learning opportunity we had Sunday night. We were down one without the hammer, playing the 7th end. We had a rock in the four foot, and the opposition was trying to blank. The skip hit it pretty thick, and the vice started pounding it to get it out. Our vice was standing behind him, trying to decide if she should help him or not. It ended up just biting and we went to the 8th down two with the hammer.

    Our vice asked me if she should have helped sweep that rock out. I told her that I couldn't make up my mind. Our team has been better without the hammer all year, but Sunday night we were doing ok with the hammer. I think typically our chances would be better at stealing one to tie it up than scoring two to tie it.

    As it turned out, we scored two to tie.