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How to Win

Measuring What Didn’t Happen

Today’s post will be brief (as well as late) because windy weather in this areas is causing spotty internet service.

Someone sent a link to a New York Times story on Penn State volleyball coach Russ Rose, whose team is enjoying an historic winning streak.

Rose keeps two types of statistics: the traditional ones on the official scoresheet and his own personal notes.

The traditional stats indicate what has happened in the match. Rose’s personal stats indicate what did not happen and what should have happened.

This is an important concept though not a new one. Henry Chadwick did it in baseball in the mid-1800s. He invented the statistical category that we know today as errors — a play that in his judgment should have been made but was not.

There is no question that traditional statistics often fail to tell the whole story — no matter what the sport. It is up to the coach to find a way to measure what is REALLY going on.

For instance, I’ve never been able to figure out why “shots on goal” matters in hockey. It doesn’t tell you much about what happened in the game. Were the shots difficult? From where were they taken?

If you want to have a superior program, chances are you will have to go outside the traditional stats.


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