Stats! Our NSOs collect them, we await them with trepidation, then we stare at them, trying to work out why was that one so low?! I thought I’d done way better than that! And, sometimes, we decide that stats aren’t important anyway, I’m just gonna keep playing my game and doing my best. All of which are absolutely fine to think, by the way. But before you beat yourself up over a pink sheet of numbers, it’s worth really understanding what exactly you’re looking at. Stats don’t always carry surface meaning.
I should caveat this post by saying I’m no statistician; this is just how I have been interpreting game stats for myself and my teammates. This is a work in progress, as I haven’t found anything online that specifically defines how to interpret each stat. I’m still working out the finer points, but if anyone has any corrections, suggestions or observations for this post then pleeeeease do let me know!
I’d recommend reading this post with a stats sheet in front of you, and using this post to interpret each individual column, as this is a pretty dull post to read through otherwise 😉
Things I’ve learnt about the stats sheets
- They can be hella misleading! Do not judge your skill as a derby player on stats alone. There are thousands of variables for each game that will affect how well a particular game goes.
- Stats are most useful for finding patterns: whether you’re calling it off in time, common penalties you get; finding your jammer style (do you jam regularly, get 4 and call it, or do you jam more occasionally and get a whopping 25 points in a jam), how you should arrange future lineups.
- Some of the stats encourage you to compare yourself with your teammates. I repeat: stats can be misleading. Stats don’t really account for skills such as sportsmanship, teamwork or strategy: derby is a team game, so individual stats do not always carry the weight that some people choose to give them!
GUIDE TO STATS: What does each heading mean?
After a game, the Head NSO takes all the stats, and puts them into a spreadsheet workbook. This workbook uses some clever maths to generate the ‘Game Summary’ tab, which is an interpretation of all the stats into a meaningful pile of data. This ‘Game Summary’ is the tab we’re going to look at in this post.
The first 4 columns are fairly self explanatory:
Jammer/Pivot/Blocker: This will tell you how many times you were on track as jammer/pivot/blocker.
Total: How many jams you played in the whole game.
% Jams skated: This is the percentage of the game you were on track for. Typically, blockers will have a higher percentage here, as jammers tend to need a little more breathing time between jams. It can also be an indication of fitness, or the choices made by a LUM. You might’ve had to sit out for injury. Or, if you had, say, 5 penalties at half time your percentage score here will probably be low, as it’s likely you didn’t get played as much in the second half. Etc.
Points: This is a column for anyone who jammed. It tells you the total number of points you won for your team in the whole game. Higher numbers are obviously better here, BUT the highest number doesn’t necessarily mean the best jammer. Remember, it’s about points DIFFERENTIAL. You might have 100 points in this column, but if you gave away 101 points when you were jamming, you’ve done worse than someone who got a total of 1 point as a jammer, and gave away none. More on that later.
PPJ: This is your average number of points per jam, when jamming. It cannot be a negative number. Again, this does not define how good your jamming was, as it does not account for points differential. It does however carry implications for fitness and penalties: if you played a clean game, this number will be higher (as you’re on track scoring points for longer), and similarly, if you have good endurance, you can score more points per jam without tiring yourself out.
Something else to bear in mind with PPJ, is how much you were on track overall. Say you blocked for 30% of the game, and you only jammed once in the whole game. You weren’t that tired so you could score a mammoth 25 points in one jam. Your teammate, however, was the jammer for 50% of the game. She consistently got 4 and called it. Her PPJ will be much lower than yours (e.g. 4, compared with your 25), even though she may have a much higher total points score overall.
Lost: This tells you how many times you were Lead jammer and lost it (by getting a penalty when you were lead). Or, if you lost eligibility to become lead jammer.* Ideally, you want this number to be 0.
Lead: How many times you were lead. The higher the better!
Called: Tells you how many jams you called off as Lead. This should be similar to the number in the ‘lead’ column. Reasons for it being lower:
1) You got a jammer penalty.
2) You forgot to call it off
Or 3) The other team’s jammer got stuck in the pack and you continued to lap the opposing jammer, not needing to call it off to prevent the opposition’s progress – meaning the jam ran the full 2 minutes.
No Pass: A number in this column indicates if you failed to complete your initial pass. This may be due to a penalty on your initial pass, or you may have got stuck in the pack. Ideally you want 0 here.
Lead%: Works out what percentage you were Lead, when jamming. Ideally 100%.
Lead+/-: When you were lead, how many points you scored for your team, minus how many points your opposing jammer scored. You shouldn’t have a negative number here. If you do, it could be because you called it off too late when you were lead (allowing the opposing jammer to score more points than you overall in that jam), or you got a penalty(s) as Lead jammer, allowing your opposing jammer to score more than you in the full 2-minute jam.
Average Lead +/-: Average PPJ as Lead jammer. This should also, ideally, be a positive number for the same reason as above.
Now, jammer AND blocker stats:
Pts for: How many points your team got whilst you were on track (blocking OR jamming)
Pts against: How many points your opponents got whilst you were on track (blocking OR jamming)
Total +/-: The important column for this bit. This is the points differential. How many points were scored by your team whilst you were on track MINUS how many points your opponents scored whilst you were on track. This should ideally be a positive number, if your team won the game.
Typically, the winning team will have more positive numbers here, and the losing team will have more negative numbers here. A negative number doesn’t mean you’re a bad blocker though! It might just mean that your team didn’t win this game, or that your lineups did not suit the way you play. Regardless, the higher the score here, the better.
The way I like to look at this stat is a bit narcissistic, but helpful as an overall gauge of how my personal game went: if we were a team of 14 Stegs (e.g. I replace each of my teammates with a clone of myself), we would have won or lost the game by this many points. If my Total+/- score was +14, then Team Steg would have won the game by 14 points. If my score was 0 in this column, Team Steg would have drawn with the opposition. If my score here was -20, Team Steg would have lost the game by 20 points. It’s therefore a useful indicator to show well I PERSONALLY was matched against the opposition team.
(Like all stats, the ‘Team of Stegs’ interpretation is not watertight, for a million different reasons that I won’t go into now, but as an overall indicator of ‘did I play well or badly against this team’, it works pretty well.)
Now, the ‘differential’ stats – these are where stats become really useful for personal improvement (and really depressing if you felt you’ve played a bad game!)
Jammer +/-: Only people who jammed will get this stat. Losing teams will have more negative numbers here, but still, the higher the number here, the better. Higher numbers mean that as a jammer, you probably didn’t get many penalties (or, you got so many points that your penalties didn’t affect the game very much), that you were calling it off at the right time, and that you were concentrating on points DIFFERENTIAL rather than maximum amount of total points you can score. For LUM and Bench managers, these are useful scores to see who should jam against this team in future: typically, the higher the better.
In this way, we can use this stat to see whether we are jamming efficiently, by seeing if we have called it off at the right time when we were Lead. Remember, you only need to score 1 point more than your opposition to win the game. If you’re lead, it’s often better to score 4 points and call it, if your opposition jammer is close on your tail.
My personal goal, from a psychological point of view, is to score as many points as I can before the other team can score 1, and if I’m lead, call it before they have scored any – therefore guaranteeing that I will win each individual jam if I am Lead (and get no penalties). Sometimes, this means getting 0-0, even if I’m Lead. Sometimes, it’s only 4-0 when I call it. But I’d rather have 4-0 than, say, 6-2, even though the points differential is the same (+4). Like I said, purely psychological: there’s nothing more crushing for your opponents when they look at the scoreboard and see that their team’s score hasn’t changed in 3 jams
Something to note: A losing team is likely to have a lot more negative numbers in this column. Negative doesn’t necessarily mean bad though, it might simply mean that your team lost the game, and even your mega strongest jammer got a minus score, because overall she lost more jams than she won. That’s not bad playing, that just means you weren’t on the winning team this time!
Average jammer +/-: On average, per jam, how many points you won/lost. If this is positive, you did your job well!
Pivot +/-: People who wore the pivot panty will get this stat – it measures your blocking score for all the time you were wearing the pivot panty. Your blocking score is how many points your team scored whilst you were on track as PIVOT, minus how many points your opponents scored whilst you were on track as PIVOT. Higher score is better. The losing team will typically have more minus numbers. Remember, the pivot is also a blocker! Not sure why these stats remain separate. Possibly something to do with star passes?
Average pivot +/-: On average, per jam, how many points you won/lost. If this is positive, you did your job well!
Blocker +/-: Anyone who blocked will get this stat – it measures how many points your team scored whilst you were on track as a blocker, minus how many points your opponents scored whilst you were on track as blocker. Higher score is better. The losing team will typically have more minus numbers. Remember, a pivot is also a blocker! Not sure why these stats remain separate. Possibly something to do with star passes?
Average blocker +/-: on average, per jam, how many points you won. If this is positive, you did your job well!
Total +/-: This is the total number of points that were scored with you on track, minus the total number of points scored against you.
As mentioned before, the important thing to look at is not how many points you won overall, but your points DIFFERENTIAL, i.e. how many points you gained, vs how many points the opposition gained. For example, you might win 25 points as a jammer in one jam. But if your opposition scored 24, you’ve only effectively scored +1 point, and tired yourself out.
Average +/-: Overall, for the whole game, this is the average number of points that were scored with you on track, in any given jam. Doesn’t matter whether you were blocking, jamming or pivoting. This stat takes into account how many jams you played. Using the Team of Stegs analogy, this is the typical number of points Team Steg would get for each jam in the game, ish.
V.T.A.R.: (Versus Team Average Rating) – i.e., how you compared to your teammates, regardless of whether your team won or lost. I THINK this algorithm takes the whole team’s stats, and takes an average for each column (e.g. points for, points against). It then takes YOUR stats, and subtracts the team’s average scores. This then gives you an indication of where you sit compared with your teammates. This is pretty much the Team of Stegs analogy written in stat form. So, if you have a positive number, you did better than average for your team. If you have a negative number, you did below average for your team. And if you have 0, your performance was average for the whole team.
VTAR Pts For: How many points your team got whilst you were on track, minus the team average. (higher number = better)
VTAR Pts Against: How many points your opponents got whilst you were on track, minus the team average (lower number = better)
VTAR Total +/-: VTAR points for, minus VTAR points against.
VTAR Jammer Avg +/-: Performance in comparison to your team’s other jammers.
VTAR Pivot Avg +/-: Performance in comparison to your team’s other pivots.
VTAR Blocker Avg: Performance in comparison to your team’s other blockers.
VTAR Avg +/-: Average VTAR points for, minus average VTAR points against. Takes into account how many jams you played, so this is a little more meaningful than the VTAR Total +/-.
Okay, now we know what our stats mean, let’s have a look at a few scenarios:
Stats say: Your jammer score is the highest on your team, but your blocker score is really low.
This does not necessarily mean you are a bad blocker! For example’s sake, let’s assume Suzy Hotrod is the jammer on a team of brand new rookie blockers. When Suzy is jamming, she is scoring billions of points for her team, and as a result, is boosting the stats for her blockers on trackat that time. Her jammer stats are through the roof – she doesn’t even NEED those blockers, but they are basking in her stat-boosting glory!
However, when Suzy is then blocking for her rookie jammer teammate, she’s doing awesome offense, and people are flying everywhere. But Suzy’s rookie jammer still doesn’t manage to get through the pack. Suzy’s blocking stats will reflect this, by saying she had zero effectiveness as a blocker.
Stat implication: Suzy Hotrod is a great jammer and a really sucky blocker.
Reality: Suzy-jammer cannot be on track with Suzy-blocker, therefore Suzy-blocker’s stats will suck by comparison to her teammates’ blocker stats. The strength of your jammer will affect your stats as a blocker.
Obviously this is a very extreme example, but you can see that if a team has one or two star jammers, they can hugely throw the stats of each jam out of kilter. Stats are not always reliable! And, more importantly, roller derby is a TEAM game. It proves that you cannot win the game with one or two star skaters; you need a team of players who work well together. The best teams should have relatively even stats across teammates, whether the team wins or loses.
Stats say: My jammer points-per-jam score sucks!
There are a few things to look at here: 1) how many penalties did you get? 2) How much were you on track?
Penalties: Obviously, the more penalties you receive, the less you are on-track winning points. More penalties = less time scoring points. If you got a lot of jammer penalties, each powerjam you give away is going to lower the PPJ average for you, and your teammates who were on track at the time.
How much were you on track? If you jam a whole game 1-on/1-off, you are likely to have a lower PPJ score than someone who jams the occasional one, and has the explosive strength to get a whopping 25 points in one jam. Their PPJ will naturally be much higher, as this stat doesn’t account for amount of time you’re on the track.
There are thousands of potential scenarios, obviously, but these two are a good example of how you can work backwards to decipher what might’ve happened in a game in order to make your stats appear how they are. The most important thing isn’t to wear your stats like a badge of honour if you do well, or fall into a pit of depression if they’re not great. The important thing is to look at your stats across a game, or a number of games, and spot patterns. Say, you have noticed that you lose points in jams, even when you’re lead. This suggests you need to work on either: calling it off at a more strategic time, or playing a cleaner jamming game so you don’t get penalties.
I’m sure there are lots of people who can tell you lots more about your skating just from looking at your stats, but for now, I hope this is a good introduction to improving your personal game strategy using stats!
* Thanks to Daniel in the comments for this clarification on the “Lost” column:
“Lost” not only indicates when you LOST lead, it should also indicate when you lost the ability to become lead. For example, if you got a penalty before lead was declared, that should also be recorded as “lost.” However, at lower levels, many NSOs may not realize this, so there’s a reasonable chance that it *is* just recording lead gained and lost. An easy way to check this is to see if there are more “losts” than “leads” on the sheet. If that’s the case, then it was being recorded that way. (On the other hand, if the two numbers are the same, you don’t know if it was being recorded wrong, or if you just never lost the ability to become lead.)
One thing that the lost box should *not* be checked for is if the other jammer simply gets lead first.