Last December, I was asked to be part of the Stats Crew for ’Bloed, Skates and Tranen’ – the Dutch Roller Derby Championships held in Eindhoven. I love working at tournaments, so was really excited, but having never been part of a tournament stats crew before, I was also slightly apprehensive.
It’s not that I’m against doing stats or think they’re boring – on the contrary, I’m a stats nerd and I’m responsible for the bout and scrimmage stats for Copenhagen Roller Derby – I just imagined a hectic weekend of sitting at a computer, crunching numbers!
Well, there was some of that, but there was plenty more besides!
The Tournament HNSO was Off Track from Crime City, and he had a vision that the stats from the tournament weren’t going to be something that the trainers could look at maybe a week later to see if there was anything they could use. He wanted to create a situation where the teams could look at the stats books between bouts so they make any changes they needed to for their next bout a couple of hours later.
As with the vast majority of NSO-related activity, it was all in the organisation and preparation. Here’s how we did it.
We were a team of three – Eddy Awesome, Solid CeilingCat and me, Barney Trubble. We had the tournament organiser send us the rosters as soon as she could – in this case, 2 days before the tournament. That meant that we could prep the paperwork for the first morning and would only have to print them out when we arrived at the venue. I was also able to prepare stats book templates for the rest of the tournament so they were ready to add in the rosters as soon as the results of each bout came in.
This advanced preparation meant that we could concentrate on inputting the data and not fumbling around creating stats books from scratch every time.
(Side note – there were no sanctioned or regulation bouts, and this was an advantage for us. As the bout paperwork didn’t need to be scanned and sent off, it didn’t need to be pristine. That meant we were able to put the entire roster on the paperwork and then cross out the names of those that were not in the 14 for the bout. Though it saved us a little bit of time on the day, it wouldn’t have been a lot more effort to get official 14-skater rosters from the trainers – although there were often last minute changes due to injury.)
As soon as the first period of the first bout was done, we started filling out the stats – score, penalties, line-ups and penalty box (though we ended up dropping the penalty box because of a hard-coding issue). Even though the bouts in the first round were only 2 x 20 minutes, there was still enough time for us to finish each period before the next period was done. As there were 3 of us in the crew, we were able to rotate positions. One would input data, one would collate the finished paperwork and prepare paperwork for subsequent bouts, whilst the third would hang loose and deal with those little things that always seem to crop up – getting rosters to the announcers, dealing with trainer questions and e-mailing completed stats books to the respective trainers, etc.
It was this last element that made a huge difference to the participating leagues. Because the stats books were completed no later than half an hour after a bout was done, we were able to e-mail them immediately to the leagues that played. Every single trainer (and some skaters) came to us to say how receiving the stats books so quickly made a difference to the way they played later in the tournament. That they had the ability to use the stats and adjust their game plan on the fly was something they had never anticipated would happen – and it showed on the track as improvements were obvious.
After a while, and to keep things a little more varied for us, we started to rotate from period to period rather than bout to bout. We knew what our colleagues were doing and where they were supposed to be, and the whole process became a well-oiled machine. Naturally, when we were in a groove, I wondered if it would be possible to be a 2-person stats crew. I think it would, as long as you had two very capable stats people, but having a third person means that there is that breathing room – and means you don’t have to eat on the go!
We ended up with the stats for the whole tournament done and sent to whoever wanted/needed them within an hour of the tournament ending – a feat that provided great satisfaction to us, and made Off Track a very happy THNSO!
There are some things that are essential for this to work –
- Get the rosters in advance (as I mention above)
- Plan the workload within the stats crew, so everyone knows what they are doing, and when they’re supposed to do it
- Have strong communication with the crew HNSOs – have the things they need ready in good time, but also let them know what you need from them (e.g. the first period paperwork at half-time)
- Build good (professionally non-biased) relationships with the trainers and/or team captains. Their heads are going to be all over the place during a tournament, so tell them clearly when you need their rosters (both for the tournament and for individual bouts), and explain to them how this will help the tournament run smoothly and benefit them in the production of the stats books.
- Equipment –
1. At least 2 laptops (3 is better)
2. 2 high quality, fast printers
3. Lots of paper
4. Extra ink cartridges (you don’t want to run out of ink for the final!)
5. Good tech back-up. We were fortunate that the host league, Rockcity Rollers, supplied us with an excellent tech person. We only had a couple of minor glitches, but she solved them very quickly and got us back up-to-speed with little time lost.
When we NSO, our main goal is that bouts or tournaments run smoothly so the skaters can skate and the audience can be entertained. But we also want to be able to take something away from bouts and tournaments as NSOs, so it is important that we look at what we do and learn from it.
Being a part of a tournament stats crew really re-emphasised the importance of preparation. Whether it is a closed doors B-team bout or a major tournament, going in anything other than fully prepared is a recipe for trouble. Also, communicating with people other than officials, I learned more about the way skaters and trainers prepare for bouts, which will in turn inform my understanding of boutday and the way different people approach it and why they might react a certain way in certain situations.
From a stats perspective, working on the tournament showed me how stats, if properly utilised, can affect a team’s performance in positive ways – something I will be sharing with our own Copenhagen skaters very soon, and likely the subject of a future blogpost!
Stats Sergeant Barney Trubble