Opinion: We Can Do Better

We don’t keep very good statistics in scholastic wrestling.  Our primary scoring repository -- handwritten scorebooks -- isn't good for retrieving and analyzing data.  Also, the statistics getting the most attention -- individual match and team results -- don’t get us to the next level. To be sure, these stats are fundamentally important, but coaches, athletes and fans deserve a richer and more interesting statistical view of our sport.  We can and should do better.

Save a Tree and Some Time

Recently, I took a peek inside a high school coach’s desk drawer and found this:

Desk Drawer - Anonymous Coach

Look familiar?  Thought so.

Some coaches or team managers, bless their hearts, will painstakingly comb through pages of manually scored matches and tally up takedowns, pins and so forth.  This process is time-consuming, inflexible and error-prone.  Also, a coach undertaking manual tallying wastes precious coaching time on a task easily avoided.

To date, alternatives for electronically recording live match results have been few and not very user friendly.  Legacy approaches include DOS-, Windows- and browser-based programs, none of which take full advantage of today’s more user friendly technology.  However, tablet computers, like the Apple iPad, and native, user-friendly apps, like TakedownTM, make the transition to electronic scoring both easy and compelling.

More Than Runs and Hits

What if professional baseball recorded only runs and hits?  These essential stats determine game winner and individual performance, respectively, and are really all that’s needed for figuring out the best team and batter.  But, professional baseball teams and players are measured with a seemingly endless array of stats.  Why?  Because coaches and players find the statistics helpful for assessing team and individual performance and taking corrective action.  And, from a fan’s perspective, rich stats make for objective discussion and engaging debate.

For the most part, scholastic wrestling is concerned mostly with runs and hits.  We know which team won an event and which wrestler beat another wrestler and this data is fundamentally important.  But, from a statistical perspective, do we really understand our sport?  Maybe, but I haven’t seen anything published in the US since Gurby’s “Scoring Patterns in High School Wrestling” in 2005.  Certainly some teams maintain a comprehensive statistical understanding of team performance.  But, the practice isn't common for good reason: the task is too hard.  Most often, the data doesn’t exist in a usable format or might not exist at all.

Further, better stats is part of building a larger, more engaged wrestling fan base.  Fans love stats!   Statistics offer a deeper understanding of competitor and team performance, and provide an objective departure point for lively discussion and debate.  Having a larger group of engaged fans would surely be great for our sport!

What Do You Think?

We have some ideas about advanced wrestling statistics and are implementing them in our next Takedown release. The good news: you won't have to do a thing besides download the new Takedown version from the App Store. All the data we need is already in your private Takedown database! This release will be available soon -- it is already in Apple's hands for approval.

But, we want to know what you think. What kinds of stats would help you and your athletes? What would grow and excite our fan base?

Send your thoughts to ideas@levelchanger.com.

Happy grappling and happy holidays.

Takedown by LevelChanger. Available on the App Store

Takedown Scoring and Stats is a single-team focused, mobile app for scoring wrestling matches, recording video, creating stats, managing teams and rosters, and engaging fans via social media. Download from the App Store.

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