|Analysis of Division I Men’s Lacrosse Statistics|
|By Michael Mauboussin|
Appendix B: Data Source
The data in this paper come from the 61 Division I men's lacrosse programs. Most of the data were collected by hand, but the NCAA does provide some of the statistics on its web site.
It's also worth noting that the aggregate data have been stable in recent years. Here are some summary statistics for the past eight seasons. Only for the past three seasons do we have full shot data, and the clearing and turnover data only for the past two seasons.
The stability of these statistics should provide encouragement to coaches, because it allows for quality benchmarking and the ability to make some reasonable predictions based on the data.
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A while back, two researchers studied the results of the NFL combine and found that there was almost no correlation between players' performance in the combine and their performance in the NFL.7 This thought rushed back to me when I heard two comments just a few days apart. The first came from a Division I player who noted that the coaches of his team looked kindly on the athletes who did the best in the weight room. More reps of 225 on the bench press seemed to bode well for playing time. The second came from Quint Kessenich, a former All-American goalie at Johns Hopkins, a sportscaster covering lacrosse, who claimed that he worked out with Steele Stanwick, Virginia's star attackman, and that Stanwick “couldn't bench press 135 pounds 10 times.”
The point is that the only skills that matter are those that make a player better on the field. Coaches should make sure to design their practices to improve and hone the skills that are requisite for the players to succeed in a game setting. Strength training is very important, but the goal is not to get all players to lift a lot of weight but rather to minimize injury and to maximize endurance. That Steele Stanwick is a first-team All-American is testament to his skills and hard work on the field, not to his reps in weight room.
Lacrosse combines (NationalLacrosseCombine.com) are a relatively recent development. It's hard to imagine that lacrosse combines will do a better job than NFL combines in providing coaches with useful information. Decades of experience show that performance in combines is a poor predictor of performance on the field. Players and parents should understand that.
Coaches are there to teach the game, implement effective strategies and tactics, and help the players reach their full potential. Teaching and motivating should be directed to the skills that contribute to wins: possession and possession efficiency. Coaches who embrace statistical measures as a part of their toolkit will be in a better position to recruit players, assess on-field results, and design training programs to improve performance.
Endnotes can be found at the bottom of Part 5. Appendix A appears in Part 6, and Appendices B and C are presented in Part 7.
Michael Mauboussin works an as investment strategist. He is a lacrosse fan, youth coach, and retired player. For more, see www.michaelmauboussin.com.
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