STATS: 7 Easy Stats For High School Coaches, and Players of Any Level

I was listening to the Pure Sweat Show with guest Mike Neighbors, head coach of the Washington Huskies women’s team. In an engaging conversation with Alan Stein titled “25 Reasons You Might Suck As a Coach”, Coach Neighbors raised the discussion of relevant stats. So, he got me thinking, what are the stats to throw in the garbage and what are the stats to place more value in? Another question I’m asking for this post is, “What are the most important and convenient stats for a high school team to keep?”

For many of you these statistics aren’t new or unheard of, but for some of you, they’re new or hopefully they’ll spark a new idea. This isn’t a collaboration of all my statistical knowledge, but just a few points. I may add more later. For now, we’ll start off with a few very important stats.

1) Lineup Efficiencies

This stat answers the question of, “Who is our best 5-man lineup?” This question is answered by the +/- of each 5-man lineup. The attached image is imaginary stats from a 5-game stretch. What’s important to notice is that the best lineup is playing the second most, while the worst lineup is playing the second least? An adjustment that team might be wise to consider is playing 2, 4, 10, 20, and 30 together more and the lineup of 4, 20, 22, 30, and 41 a little bit less.

Lineup efficiency tells the coaching staff which lineups are best/worst, and which 5 should be playing the most.

2) Free Throw Advantage

Which team is truly winning the free throw battle? I’ve heard that the ultimate goal for a great team is to shoot more free throws than the opponent makes… And I think that’s stupid. Attempts don’t help you win, but MAKES. How many free throws is your team making compared to the opponent?

3) Paint Touches or Ball Reversals

These are not the only two “team strategies” to track, but they are two good ones. I read that Brad Stevens’ staff at Butler discovered that each time their offense reversed the ball, the average Points Per Possession (PPP) increased:

Zero reversals = .63 ppp
One reversal = .83 ppp
Two reversals = 1.1 pp

The numbers are important because kids these days have to have proof of what coaches are saying. Believe me, as a 22-year old, I’m the product of a society and education system that places inorbitant amounts of value on PROOF. By tracking this sort of information, you’re able to PROVE to your team that ball reversals make the offense better as opposed to just saying “Reverse it!”

Individual Stats for Bigs

  • Rebound %: Total Rebounds/Rebounding Opportunities
  • Screen Assists: How many times do you set a screen each game that results in a score for the person you set the screen for? In my opinion, 2–4 is ok, 5–6 is pretty good, and anything over 6 is great.

Individual Stats for Guards

  • Shot Quality Average: Rank every shot you take by 1 (Bad shot, very contested), 2 (OK shot, semi contested), or 3 (Great shot, wide open or your personal best shot). Now, add up every shot quality value and divided it by your number of attempts. For example, if I took six shots in a game, that were 2 of each quality, I would have a total of 12 (3+3+2+2+1+1). Then I would divide by my shot attempts (6). 12/6 = 2, so my average shot quality is a 2, just OK.
  • Floor Side Passes: This is a stat mainly for Point Guards. What percentage of the time are you passing the ball to the left side of the floor compared to the right side of the floor? In an ideal world, it would be 50/50. I played with a PG who was about 80/20 and we won only 6 games that year. Floor balance and making the defense defend both sides of the court is very important.

With all these sort of stats, one game won’t tell you much. Like we all learned in math (actually about the only thing I’ve learned in math lol) is sample size. Over the course of a season, by keeping these stats, trends will arise naturally and the numbers will tell you what’s most important to your team winning.

I’m curious, what are your stats the are most important to you? What stats does your team keep? What stats do you believe are irrelevant? I’m a coach myself (aspire to coach college after graduation) so I am hungry to learn from you too!

Thanks for reading and I hope this serves you well!

Mason Waters

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