Game-Changing Stats Coaches May Be Overlooking

What if the stats coaches normally use to analyze football games are really not that telling? What if the game has changed? What if coaches are biased to certain information and it clouds their vision of important indicators in football games? Is there a better way for coaches to self-scout and create goals each week for your team to give them the best chance to win?

SportSource Analytics is a sports-focused analytics company dedicated to enabling better decisions with better data through the use of customized platforms and services.

I met these guys at the AFCA Convention in Nashville a few years back, and I’ve been a big fan of their work ever since. They are the official data analytics platform for the College Football Playoff, and they provide platforms, consulting, and data services for many major college programs and conferences. They offer insight that few can, and I highly recommend their services and Twitter feed.

I was able to ask them a few questions this past week, and they gave some great ideas for BALL COACHES to change their thinking, scouting, coaching, and goal setting week in and week out.

What are some of the most under-utilized statistics for measuring OFFENSIVE success that coaches should be focusing more toward in their preparation?

It’s all about being efficient and being explosive. Given that, we advise that coaches put a lot of focus on the following statistics:
P & 10 efficiency: One of the most important plays in football
1st & 10 efficiency: Over 40% of football is played on 1st and 10. If you aren’t successful on 1st and 10, it’s hard to be a great offense
Walsh Ranking: Bill Walsh said that great offenses are the best at avoiding 3rd down. What percent of your first downs are coming on 1st down, 2nd down, 3rd down. What percent of your plays are on 1st down, 2nd down, 3rd down? Best offenses don’t wait until 3rd down to gain first downs
Points Per Possession: How efficient are you being with the ball?
Plays Per Point: Helps measure both efficiency and explosiveness
Quality Play Index: We have what we call a quality play index. This looks at what percent of your plays were Good and Great plays. A Good Play is any play that gains a 1st down, results in a TD, or results in first down. Great Plays are any plays of 25+ yards and/or a TD.

What are some of the most under-utilized statistics for measuring DEFENSIVE success that coaches should be focusing more toward in their preparation?

Defensive Mayhem Index: This measures what percent of the time a defense gets a sack, TFL, or a turnover.
Points Per Possession
Plays Per Point
3 and Out Percentage: What percent of opponent’s drives are three and out
Trips to the RZ: Red Zone efficiency can be a bit overrated. The goal is not to allow the opponent to get to the Red Zone.
P & 10 Defense: How often are you keeping opponent’s from being efficient on P&10
3rd Down YTG: Best way to be good on 3rd down is to put offenses in situations where it is difficult to gain a first down. What is the average Yards To Gain on 3rd down for your opponents.

What statistics are the greatest indicators of winning and losing?

Winning the Efficiency Battle
Winning the First Half
Winning the Big Play Battle
Winning the Trips to Red Zone Battle
Winning the Tackle for Loss Battle 
Scoring First
Be Good on the Firsts

When hiring coaches, what are the most important analytics/attributes to consider from the research you have performed?

It’s all about looking at the job a coach has done relative to the situation he took over. Where did they get better or worse? How much impact did the coach in question have to do with that improvement? Also, looking for consistency so we don’t fall prey to a What You See Is What Is bias. Good coaches can have down years and bad coaches can have up years.  We also like to test how coordinator dependent a coach is. When it comes to using data in the hiring process, it has to be a very holistic approach that takes a very deep dive into the data.

I think this is some fascinating insight from SportSource Analytics. It has helped mold and change the way I evaluate my coaching style and emphasis and how I evaluate the formula needed to give athletes the best chance to be successful. Focusing on the most important situations in football can give any team the edge needed to win more games, especially when the talent differential is minimal. Ball Coaches search and find ways to win ball games.

I hope you enjoyed this article. Leave some comments/questions to discuss further!

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