I had an assistant coach in 1997 who told our players after a practice that, “STATS DON’T MATTER!!! STOP LOOKING AT YOUR STATS! IT’S SELFISH!!!” I had to correct him in private because what he said violated my coaching philosophy, ideology, and beliefs, as well as our team policy that I had taught him and every assistant I’ve ever worked with. He was wrong on two counts. Stats do count. They are essential for investigation and motivation – the difference between being more and being less, the difference between winning more and winning less.
Investigation: First, stat-analysis is the key to investigating winning and losing. We use the stat-sheet as a learning experience for our players by teaching the following points:
- Every game stat-sheet tells the quantitative story of every win and every loss. Every stat-sheet quantifies production. It represents the unique workload formula for every game, win or lose. What worked, what didn’t work, who worked, who didn’t work, which leads to the most important conclusion of all – who worked out and who didn’t. There is a direct relationship between workout performance and stat-sheet. What is lifted in the weight room manifests in stats. The quantity and quality of sprints manifests in every stat that involves sprinting. When things don’t work out on the field, you didn’t work out in the gym. The stat-sheet shows how much you lifted. The stat-sheet shows how much you ran.
- I have coached almost 400 games at four levels. Not one game had identical stats. Every stat sheet is the DNA of every game. The cumulative effect of every stat is the fingerprint of each game. No two are alike. Each game has its own quantitative model that teaches valuable real-life lessons about your reality. The key point is this – learn how many different ways there are to win and lose. Learn how differences achieve same outcomes and how similarities achieve different outcomes.
- Every game is has its own statistical personality. There are infinite ways to win and lose. There is no generic model that explains winning and losing with full certainty. There is extreme variance in stats for both wins and losses. Stat-analysis teaches you about limitless possibilities. We have had three players who started from scratch, chosen for ‘Faces in the Crowd’ as recognition for single-game performances that exceeded what I could have imagined during my rookie head coach season, including an 836-yard single-game passing record and a 369-yard single-game rushing record. Although only one player was recognized each time, extraordinary statistical accomplishment represents unit-achievement, not individual-achievement.
- Not one stat is completely irrelevant. Pay attention to compatibles and discrepancies. Find consistencies and inconsistencies. Use your stat sheet like a box score in baseball. Discover patterns. The truth and relevance will emerge regardless of how insignificant the stat may seem.
- You can learn how to win with abundance and with scarcity. Stat-variables reveal hidden relationships, that show how you can win more with less and vice-versa – how you can win less with more. For example, you can find hidden stat-variable meaning in a stalled long drive by your team or by your opponent, that results in yards gained, inflated time of possession, but zero points. Finding the relationship between stats and points teaches ‘capacity’ – the true potential of both your team and your opponent’s team. Another stat-variable is playing ‘catch-up,’ a concept we define with dual meaning. First, we analyze the relationship between stats when our team and our opponent are losing. Secondly, we analyze what our team and their team does during extreme passing attack, by design or by necessity.
- The key concept in investigating winning and losing through stat-analytics is identifying your reality. Our reality is not the same as the reality of pro football or D1 NCAA. Our statistical game model is considerably different than that of an NFL game or NCAA D1 game. The numbers of an NFL game or D1 NCAA game have no relevance to our reality. There is zero relationship between the skill level of pro players and D1 NCAA players and the skill level of our players. We have to make our own numbers. What doesn’t seem possible at higher levels is possible at our amateur level because we can open a competitive gap wider than that which is possible at higher levels where parity exists. My teams represent Football Poverty. We have the least but have to make the most out of it. Our stat-analysis is directly responsible for overachieving in mind, body, and soul by motivated players.
- Statistical analysis of each win and loss represents higher learning. It raises your football IQ and adds academic initials after your name, the equivalent of a graduate degree or doctorate degree in football. It’s impossible to raise your level of coaching consciousness without investigating each win and loss on film and determining the relationship between stats and the specific win or loss. Our stat-analysis for 40 years has dramatically changed our expectations and performance goals. It has ‘stretched our performance goals.’ We believe in the ‘stretch goal’ philosophy of continuously raising the bar regarding performance expectation every week. Stats have taught me to expect more than I could ever have imagined when I got hired as a high school head coach at the age of 26. My entire belief system has changed because of stat-analysis. What I used to think was impossible, isn’t.
Motivation: Secondly, contrary to conventional wisdom that considers it selfish for players to be concerned with their stats, I encourage and expect players to review their stats every game, no exception. Reviewing their stats is not selfish. It serves a dual purpose:
- It’s an essential learning experience, and;
- It promotes hunger to do more, be more, expect more, and believe more.
The following are the key points:
- A player’s stats are the equivalent of an academic report card. No one tells students to ignore marks on their report cards. No one would tell a student that academic marks don’t matter or to stop looking at their marks or that concern about their individual academic performance is selfish.
- Analyzing individual stats is an academic exercise when they are examined within the full context, by finding cause and effect through relationships with the entire stat-sheet.
- Individual stats are not selfish as long as the player never believes he acted alone. Individual stats are unit stats. All individual stats are a representation of the entire unit’s work performance. In most cases, one player represents the stat, the same way a head coach represents a won-loss record, but no won-loss records are individually owned by the head coach. The head coach is the face of the program and merely represents the team’s won-loss record. The same applies to individual stats. If your players look at individual stats selfishly, it means you didn’t teach them otherwise.
- I promote big individual stats every practice, every workout. The reason is that is promotes the two essential elements of high-performance – fire and desire. The bigger the individual stats, the bigger the win. Bigger individual stats don’t just happen. you have to raise the bar in the gym and on the field. Whether the individual game stat is 200 yards, 15 tackles, 600 yards passing, 10 catches, or 2 interceptions, the desire for bigger stats increases the desire to win as long as each player truly understands and believes that individual stats represent unit- achievement, that he didn’t act alone, that the individual stat is the result of an entire unit spilling its’ guts. Individual stats do not promote individual credit. They promote gratitude to teammates by giving credit for to the entire unit. The individual is merely the face of the unit, the representative of the stat. With the right teaching, perspective and attitude, individual stats do not promote conceit and arrogance. Instead, they build Unit Hunger, the number-one difference between winning big and getting slaughtered.
- Undoubtedly, the numbers that matter most are on the scoreboard but stats make the score happen. Ignoring stats is another baseless practice passed on from one generation to the next with no justification. We strongly emphasize stats to our players as both an investigative model that tells the full story of a win or loss and as a performance review. We do not promote individual boasting but we do promote desire for high-performance and meeting performance goal expectations.
- The key psychological element toward stats is credit – give credit to the unit. Represent the unit and give credit to the entire unit for the blessing of your safety and performance. Stats count. Stat add up. Stats reward performance. Stats are the truth. Stats do not lie, deny, or make alibis. Every win and loss is an outcome of numbers that form Pedagogical Analytics – investigative data that determines what we teach, how we teach, and why.
Be more or be less – it’s your biggest decision today. Football coaching requires life-long learning. You have to be obsessed with learning more, to be more. When you stop learning, you stop earning. Read, listen, and watch as much as you possibly can. You are coaching in the most challenging time in the history of football for two reasons: (i) More opposing coaches innovate than ever before. (ii) Unprecedented First World softness has weakened the sport by weakening players, coaches, administrators. The survival of football is in your hands and in your mind, literally.
The key for career survival is continuing education. Never stop learning. Coaching football is a Sacred Profession. It’s a calling. X Fitness is committed to help coaches and players by sponsoring Blunt Talk Podcast. Blunt Talk Podcast has included a number of football coaches and ex-football players who have shared powerful insights, guaranteed to provide optimal learning experience. Please visit Blunt Talk Podcast. All 118 episodes of Blunt Talk Podcast are free, permanently archived, compliments of my gym, X Fitness. Every guest is guaranteed to lift. Here is the link: http://blunttalk.libsyn.com/
Blessings and all good things.
Gino Arcaro M.Ed., B.Sc., Level 3 NCCP (Nat’l Coaching Certification Program)
Football Head coach – Niagara X-Men Football
Gym Owner – X Fitness Welland Inc.
Podcast Host – BLUNT TALK PODCAST www.blunttalk.libsyn.com
Gino Arcaro is a widely published author. Currently, he is finishing another book in his non-fiction series: Mystery of Murder: Working with the Dead. All published books are available on on www.Amazon.com and www.Chapters/Indigo.ca, in both soft cover and eBook format. Additionally, his website, www.ginoarcaro.com features his books including:
Football coaching and non-fiction books: SWAT System: Offense and Defense, SWAT Tackling Video (with accompanying eBook), and 4th & Hell: Season One and Season Two
Business Books: Selling H.E.L.L. in Hell, True Confessions, and eBooks: Soul of Selling, and, Real Business Relationships = Sales
Fat Loss Book: Fat Losing
Workout System: eXplode: The X Fitness System
Motivational Books: Soul of a Lifter, and eBooks: The Pledge, and, The Focus
Children’s Books: Be Fit Don’t Quit, and, The Beauty of a Dream
Policing Textbooks: Arcaro’s Interrogation Case Law