Two Plus Two Newer Archives Why don't coaches understand fundamental math?
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#11
10-30-2007, 09:18 AM
 pzhon Senior Member Join Date: Mar 2004 Posts: 4,515
Re: Why don\'t coaches understand fundamental math?

Not only are the teams losing out, so are the announcers. I think the fans would value comments like, "They should go for the touchdown. Going for it won't win more points here, but failure means turning over the ball on the goal line. That is worth 1 point more than kicking the ball off after a successful field goal," or, "They need to realize they are in a desperate situation since losing by 3 points is the same as losing by 30. They need to play for there to be 3 or 4 more touchdowns in this game, even if that means they get those touchdowns only 1 time in 3. They have to go for it here."

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I'd be curious to see what the average log of the effect of coaching decisions on the result is, rather than just the flat averages.

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What do you mean? If a mistake drops a team's winning chances from 10% to 5%, that is both cutting their chances in half, and increasing their opponent's chances by less than 6%.
#12
10-30-2007, 12:22 PM
 rufus Senior Member Join Date: Aug 2005 Posts: 425
Re: Why don\'t coaches understand fundamental math?

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I'd be curious to see what the average log of the effect of coaching decisions on the result is, rather than just the flat averages.

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What do you mean? If a mistake drops a team's winning chances from 10% to 5%, that is both cutting their chances in half, and increasing their opponent's chances by less than 6%.

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Right, but there's only one side making each decision. The issue is that if you're looking at probability to win then the log of the decision makes more sense -- a coach on a strong team is usually going to be doing less damage with poor decisions than a weak coach will. Of course, a strong team is less likely to have tough decisions anyway.
#13
10-30-2007, 03:56 PM
 pzhon Senior Member Join Date: Mar 2004 Posts: 4,515
Re: Why don\'t coaches understand fundamental math?

Ok, I still don't think the logarithmic measure is good at all. It would make sense if being undefeated for the season were all that mattered. Do you really want to say dropping from a 0.01% chance to win to a 0.001% chance to win (and this type of error may be common) is more serious than dropping from 80% to 20%?
#14
10-30-2007, 04:53 PM
 rufus Senior Member Join Date: Aug 2005 Posts: 425
Re: Why don\'t coaches understand fundamental math?

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Ok, I still don't think the logarithmic measure is good at all. It would make sense if being undefeated for the season were all that mattered. Do you really want to say dropping from a 0.01% chance to win to a 0.001% chance to win (and this type of error may be common) is more serious than dropping from 80% to 20%?

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Yeah. OTOH you must admit that the difference between 70 and 80 percent is less of an issue than the difference between 10 and 0. There's probably some sort of happy medium.

Considering real-time analysis is feasible, it might be interesting to provide the commentators with ZEUS - even if it's just for 4th down, conversion, and free kick situations.
#15
10-30-2007, 05:18 PM
 tarheeljks Senior Member Join Date: Aug 2006 Location: stone that the builder refused Posts: 4,134
Re: Why don\'t coaches understand fundamental math?

aggie i understand and agree, but i will respond "hello risk aversion."
#16
10-30-2007, 06:47 PM
 jae686 Senior Member Join Date: Jan 2006 Posts: 175
Re: Why don\'t coaches understand fundamental math?

If you'd like another example. Consider a basketball game in the bonus with 30 seconds left on the clock. The team with possession of the ball is trailing by 4. Does anyone else on this forum think the best shot to take (given a team of standard skill distribution) is a 3-pointer?
#17
10-30-2007, 07:28 PM
 jogsxyz Senior Member Join Date: Mar 2005 Posts: 1,167
Re: Why don\'t coaches understand fundamental math?

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aggie i understand and agree, but i will respond "hello risk aversion."

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If the coach goes against CW and is wrong, he risks getting fired.
#18
10-31-2007, 10:43 AM
 rufus Senior Member Join Date: Aug 2005 Posts: 425
Re: Why don\'t coaches understand fundamental math?

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aggie i understand and agree, but i will respond "hello risk aversion."

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I really don't think that's an accurate description. Looking at the analysis there are plenty of examples where there is basically no downside to the better choice because there is very little difference between 1 and 2 or 4 and 5 point leads in the last minutes of the game.

It's intellectual laziness or ignorance.
#19
11-01-2007, 03:14 PM
 jay_shark Senior Member Join Date: Sep 2006 Posts: 2,277
Re: Why don\'t coaches understand fundamental math?

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If you'd like another example. Consider a basketball game in the bonus with 30 seconds left on the clock. The team with possession of the ball is trailing by 4. Does anyone else on this forum think the best shot to take (given a team of standard skill distribution) is a 3-pointer?

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It's too early to risk a 3 point shot with 30 seconds to go . It's much better to take the best shot available during your possession and hope that you can make it within 2 points . Sometimes , the best shot available is a 3 point shot and you should go ahead and take the risk .
#20
11-03-2007, 02:15 AM
 MicroBob Senior Member Join Date: Sep 2003 Location: The cat is back by popular demand. Posts: 29,344
Re: Why don\'t coaches understand fundamental math?

Those who argue that you should take a 3 tend to flatly look at 3-point percentages and argue that the chances of making them so good that you should do that instead.
They fail to realize that a FORCED 3-pointer has a far lesser chance of success. It's apples and oranges. The guy that makes 40% of his 3-pointers all season long did so because he took them when the shot was open.

If you set things up in the situation with 30 seconds left to "get the ball to Miller because he's 40% to make this 3-pointer" then you are missing the point because he's almost definitely not going to be 40% in that forced situation.

The stats-geeks have been invading baseball and have been changing strategies the past few years.
I believe the same will happen in football with such scoring-decision situations in the years to come.
There are some coaches who are less afraid to take chances and may have some possiblity of actually getting this stuff.
MIT has a football team I believe. So do Harvard and Yale and Princeton and Stanford among other schools. Surely there have to be some math majors on some of these teams who could understand something like this and maybe even one or two of them could become a coach in the future.

As I recall, an assistant coach at James Madison who is in a wheelchair has posted on these forums and is a poker player. I forget his name but he linked to an article about himself that was pretty impressive.
So he understands the general idea of EV and poker concepts, etc and is an assitant coach on a Div 1-AA team.

Getting the picture? Not ALL of these guys are total jock idiots as the perception goes.
And some of them are much bigger risk-takers then you might think. It's not all conservative play-calling either.

If there's an edge to be had and they can actually learn that it is real then they will indeed go for it. It's only a matter of time.

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