Growth through Stats

by Rich Ackroyd; Offensive Coordinator for the Bournemouth Bobcats

Football is filled with statistics; Yards run, Receptions made, Touchdowns scored, Sacks. Tackles, The list goes on…

Have you ever stopped to wonder why ?

I am a fan of metrics; quantifiable measures used to track, monitor and assess success or failure. I am not a fan of collecting numbers or lists of what happened, and who did what, without connection back to where you are heading. Statistics can be either, depending what you do with them.

Left unmanaged, stats are not only time consuming but dangerous; creating unintended incentives, with outcomes at odds with the your strategic goals.

Metrics on the other hand are part of your team’s DNA.

I have three objections to publishing lists of generic numbers:

1. Unmanaged statistics are divisive

Nothing is more sure to have a player play for his / herself ahead of the team than keeping a list of touchdowns scored, especially if they aren’t on it.
Before you do it, be sure you want every player on the field to score touchdowns. Be sure you want that awesome blocking fullback to become the tailback. Be sure you want your offensive tackle to go join the tight ends. Be sure you want your QB running dives when he sees the end zone.
Statistics can be a fine way to drive performance, but releasing them without a strategic goal can create very different results to what you intend.

2.They do not tell the story

A stat that tells you a receiver covered 50 yards to score a touch down does not tell you the story of the play. It does not tell you your Offensive Line made amazing blocks or that your QB threw the ball on a dime. It also doesn’t tell you the receiver was open in 10 yards of space, juggled the ball and only just managed to catch it. Stats are a fine management tool, but they do not give the context of what happened.

3. They do not replace video

Finally, if your players are desperate for numbers there is a better way for them to get them – watch the video ! This way the players not only see what their numbers are, but more importantly the quality of their work to get there. Nothing should replace reviewing the video, especially not publishing feel good numbers.

So, what do we do?

Here I come back to metrics. Metrics are the specific measures for the strategic goals of your team, and may be totally different to any other team’s – don’t be driven by the footballing norm.
You set Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) against those goals, share them with the team and show your movement toward them as the team grows and your strategy is fulfilled. For my team we track 3 offensive KPIs that drive everything we do – pass completion with a KPI of 40-50%, average play distance with a KPI of 3.5 yards and penalties with a KPI of no more than 1 per quarter.
We monitor and share these metrics during and post game, and we all know what they mean and whether we are working well or need to change things up.

Statistics are a great tool to drive behaviour the way you intend; just make sure you are collecting metrics, not numbers.

Rich Ackroyd- Offensive Coordinator for the http://Bournemouth Bobcats

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