3 Steps To Using Stats More Effectively

By Rakin Hamad
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Sometimes it seems like tracking statistics is analogous to the “get rich quick” schemes.

Tracking statistics will not make you a better coach overnight; there is a process that needs to be completed. There are three main steps to become a better coach through the use of analytics and statistics, but these steps are like spokes on a wheel. A wheel keeps spinning and spinning continuously picking up speed, and to get better as a coach you will have to continuously keep repeating the process to become a better coach.

Step 1

The first step of the process is to track statistics.

Seems fairly easy, but the decision to decide what statistics to track is a tough one. To start off I would recommend something easy, like turnovers to assist ratio, rebounding margin, or a shot chart.

There is a right way and a wrong way and you need to make sure that you are recording these statistics in a way that will net future gains. For example, tracking a team’s shooting percentage is great, but how will you improve your team by knowing that you shoot 35 percent? Obviously, you will want to raise the field goal percentage, but you will have no idea how to do it.

Instead of tracking the overall shooting percentage, you should break up the court and record the shooting percentages in each zone. You can decide to break up the court based on inside the paint, midrange, and three pointers; or you can decide to break up the court based on the left side, the center, and the right side.

Another example would be how you track turnovers. It’s great to know that you average 15 turnovers a game, but just telling your team we need to average less will probably not pay dividends in the future. Break down the turnover statistic into categories. For example, you could break down the turnovers based on what position or players are turning over the ball; or you could break the categories down to what type of defenses these turnovers are occurring against (press, 2-3 zone, 3-2 zone, man, etc.).

The first spoke of the wheel is to track statistics effectively.

Step 2

Now we move to the second spoke. After the statistics are recorded they need to be analyzed, this is where the term analytics comes from. Again, analyzing might seem simple, but it is incorrectly used often.

Let's go back to the shooting percentage example. Some coaches will look at the 35% shooting percentage and say we need to make a goal of increasing our percentage to 40%. This is not effective analysis.

Let's say we recorded the shooting percentage based on the left side, the right side, and the center. For this example, let's say that the team shoots the highest on the left side and the lowest on the right side. There are two paths of analysis we can go down. One type of analysis would be to say that we need to improve our shooting on the right side. This would constitute running shooting drills in practice only on the right side of the court. Another effective method would be to run 3-on-3 and they can only use the right side of the court. This would help the players become more accustomed and comfortable to the right side of the court and would raise the shooting percentage.

The other type of analysis would lead you to saying we need to run an offense that gets the majority of the shots on the left side of the court. Practicing left side pick and rolls or left post-ups would be an effective way to improve. That is obviously very simplistic and it would be impossible for a team to only run the offense on the left side of the court. Other ways to improve would include running cross screens to set up post ups on the left side or to run a motion offense that would conclude with the ball on the left side and a side pick and roll. Working on moving the ball from the strong side to the weak side would also be very effective because then the team can use the right side of the court as the strong side while the weak side motion would create a shot on the left side.

Step 3

Now that we used analytics to understand our statistics and create a solution to them, it is time for the third spoke. The third spoke of the wheel is implementation.

Practice these drills every day with your team even when it seems monotonous. These drills will make your statistics better and the team better. During the implementation process, it is important to continue to track the statistics. This is the only way to realize the success you have had. I compared this process to a wheel because there are always other statistics out there for you to process, just like how a wheel keeps spinning.

Statistics can make you a better coach, but you have to know how to use them and this three-step process is the right way. This process will become fun the more statistics you track because of the success that comes from it. Statistics might look daunting with all the numbers and different types, but at the end of the day the juice is worth the squeeze if those statistics are used properly.

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