Get Better Bench Stats: Our New Tool

Posted in Derby

Jam by jam statistics can be incredibly powerful throughout a game of roller derby to help inform and back up lines and tactical decisions with confidence.

At Rainy, we’ve toyed with many different methods of gaining useful, actionable statistics. We developed a Heatmaps tool last year (https://derbyontoast.com/jammer-heatmaps) to help monitor where jammers are getting out to be able to patch up defensive frailties. We often have league members sat in the crowd jotting down lead status stats and points in an attempt to get a better picture of the game. Sadly this often ends up with a hastily passed over scrawl of paper with a lot of numbers on it that you have around 2 minutes to try and digest at half time. We knew this wasn’t the best method, so started thinking of something better.

We began by writing down the key info that we want in a game:

  • Which of our jammers are performing best
  • Which of their jammers are performing best
  • Which packs are performing best
  • How are our jammers matching up against the opposition packs, and vice versa

We wanted a quick tool that gave us swift, easy to understand info on our team and the opposition. So we built this (click to view on Google Sheets):

 

It’s filled with dummy data at the moment, feel free to duplicate and use yourself.

Instructions

All you have to do is add in, jam by jam:

  • jammer and packs info
  • lead status info
  • seconds until lead
  • points for and against

There is a core “stats dashboard” where you can see headline info that’ll help you make decisions as you bench. We also have included various detailed sheets for more information. You can see information about jammers and packs, and how they’re matching up against each other. It automatically colour codes so that green is performing best, and red is weakest.

What about penalties? Power Jams? Changes in lines?

A game of derby can be complicated so we simplified our data to just packs and jammers, rather than individual blockers. We’re not trying to be NSO’s here, we just want to have easy to read, actionable data. A list of individual blocker stats would be amazing to analyse later, but jam by jam, overview stats on packs gives us a lot more to work with.

Seconds until lead? Really?

It’s a grossly overlooked stat to measure jammer and blocker performance and gives a much better impression of how much a jammer is destroying a wall than just lead status. Lead status is so dead to me.

Who does this? On what?

We’re trialling this with a designated bench role for stats manager.  They’ll be on the bench with a laptop and stopwatch, largely because spreadsheets are awful on touch screens. They will be providing feedback to the rest of the bench team on who’s performing best and any opponent vulnerabilities.

What next?

We’re hoping you can make use of this right away for your team. We’d love to have feedback on how it’s working for you, what’s missing, and what can be improved. One day it will be amazing to have this wrapped up in an app, to help it be more mobile and accessible for all. Once the functionality is heavily tested and we know it’s doing something useful and meaningful, we can think about the fun of a touch screen platform.

Enjoy!

by Michael Watson

Bench manager for Rainy City Allstars. Likes to talk long and hard about typography. Can’t look at the colours pink and red next to each other without feeling a bit nauseous.

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