Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Is player performance quantifiable in paintball?

In a recent comments I was asked to offer an evaluation, or (semi-)educated opinion if you prefer, of one of the Infamous brawlers--which I refused to do. Not because it isn't an interesting or even a perfectly valid question but because I didn't think it would be either prudent (to potentially antagonize or flatter future opponents) or professional (to say anything that might be viewed as lacking respect for a fellow competitor or obviously for public consumption.) I know that may seem kinda lame to some of you but that's where I'm drawing a line.
If we (Paintball) had a more developed media there would be more of that sort of thing being discussed by fans, players & media monkeys. But we don't--and in a lot of ways never did even when you could count paintball magazines into the double digits, or close. (The industry held the purse strings and generally didn't--doesn't--tolerate bad "PR" even, or especially when it was--or is--the truth. Yes, some mags were better than others but they all played the game to one degree or another.) But I'm digressing. (Again.)
If we generalize the original commenter's question we're left with a generic question about how one might evaluate player performance and just what that evaluation entails. This is pertinent because we're closing in on this season's end and teams are either beginning to or have already begun to think about next season. And along with issues of sponsorship and general financing the other big issue is rosters. What are the teams strengths and weaknesses? Will changes need to be made? What if we lose X, Y or Z to another team or school or a job? Ideally roster moves are about improving but as a practical matter they are often also about filling holes and dealing with the unexpected. Whatever the roster consideration is all those decisions revolve around evaluating talent. (There's other equally important factors in my mind but we'll get to those later.) So here we are nearing the end of another season and everybody on a team or running a team is starting to think about their players--and possible future players, evaluating talent and making judgments.
But what criteria do you use in evaluating players? I intend to talk more, perhaps a lot more, about this in the next post but my purpose this time around was to pose the question--and hopefully begin a "discussion" about the process. What do you look for in a player? How do you determine when a player isn't working out? Break it down for me. Is there a difference between determining if a player is sufficiently skilled and deciding if you want that player on your team? Id so, what is it?
It's easy to say so-and-so is a great player. It's a lot harder to offer quantifiable criteria for making such a judgment. Player X is great because ... why?
What criteria do you use in evaluating players?

EDIT ADDED: Think baseball, basketball or football players. With baseball there's a million and one stats that track aspects of performance so that you can easily compare one player to another based on real quantifiable numbers. The same, to a lesser degree, with most all 'professional' sports. So what about paintball? Is evaluating talent strictly a seat of the pants proposition--I know it when I see it--or are there ways of making real distinctions and quantifiable judgments between different players?

I'ma give y'all a couple days to think about it and comment on it and later in the week I'll pick the subject back up. In the meantime tomorrow I'll be posting designs for a VFTD & DPA T-shirt(s) so look for those while you're contemplating the question.


Anonymous said...

I look for a couple things:
- Solid fundamentals (snapshooting, running and gunning, etc.)
- Field awareness/timing of moves
- Commitment to getting better

Anonymous said...

I would go by what the player brings to the team, his attitude, and how he performs compared to other players at his position. If player X can play many different spots and be good at all of them, he should be considered better than a player who can only play 1 spot equally as well. If they have a much better attitude and dont cause problems in the pits, that player should be considered a better team player. Lastly, while it is almost impossible to compare say a back center player to a snake player straight up, we could compare them based off of how good they are compared to others at that same position. If the snake player can outplay all snake players versus a back center who is only decent compared to other back center players (at communicating, laning, running and gunner, etc.) we could say that at their respective positions, the snake player is a better player than the back center player

Anonymous said...

While looking proplayers only through webcasts here are some criteria that points out good from ordinary.

A good front player:
- reaches snake/dorito from the break or with one fast bump at least 2 times out of 3.
- engages opponents in seconds after sliding in
- is able to find something to shoot regardless of incoming paint
- is able to keep active with or without sideline coaching
- makes himself dangerous all the time so the other team has to use a lot of energy against him
- is able to kill avg. 2+ players before dropping out

A good middle player:
- his team gets avg. 1 kill in two breaks (if not, there are no good middle players in this team)
- shoots effectively from the break and while running to first bunker
- keeps the momentum by changing bunkers
- fills front bunkers fast when needed
- makes avg. 2-3 run throughs or major kills in a total race-to game

A good back player:
- his team gets avg. 1 kill in two breaks (if not, there are no good back players in this team)
- shoots/talks from start to finnish and still has one pod left in the end
- is able to change bunkers when needed
- is always in the game when the point ends

While watching pro games webcast and the highest caliber players in our sport, players with above "stats" stand out. When following some team a bit closer and longer you start to learn certain names, even new ones.
Maybe this is the answer to "ranking" players in our sport?

As a team captain/coach you look for those same "stats" in your own amateur team. But as this is a team sport you have to fit in personalities and not only on field capabilities. There are always leaders, individuals and those who just follow given tactics. Finding correct person to each role is the most demanding task in any coaches job. Getting great captain/coach makes or breaks even teams with best possible individual players.

Best local and easy to read feedback you get from your regular opponents.
Which players in your team gets the most attention, ea. barrels pointing at them in breakouts?
Who is considered dangerous by them?

These guys are your MVPs!!

Thanks for inspiring reading Baca, again.


nickgibson said...

why does the industry keep propping up the nppl based on these bullshit media opportunities. At some point doesnt it have to prove itself to be a viable league where the best team wins.

On player evaluation I think what you look for is based on the system you have in place where the person above me is looking for those quick elimination from a snake player i would take one that makes his spot and lives there to free up my middle players to make moves. Dont get me wrong I think the snake player needs to get g's but Im not in a hurry. But i am biased on that

Geek said...

I think some of the comments missed that the stats need to be mesurable. You should be able to slap these mesurments on a card and put players side ba side and say this guy is "better" than this guys.

This would be comparable or better between to similar player (snake player/ front player, back player) like in other sports you cannot compare the goal keeper to the front player, or kicker to running back. Duh!
Kills: confirmed kills attributed to a player

Some number

Lanning Ratio:
total kills of break/points played

Win Ratio:
Points won/ Points played

Game Finish Ratio
Points ended alive / Points played

Off Break death Ratio:
Times shot off Break/ points played

Total Kills

Kill Ratio:
Total Kills / Games played

1v1 win rate
Times 1v1 was won/ times he played 1v1

2v1 Ratio
Times player survived 2v1 / times player has been in 2v1

Feel free to add.

Kevin said...

Hey Baca -

Did Virtue ever follow through with their PSP tracking software? If so, this may be a way in the future to track player's progress. Stats like first shot off, % of time rolling the gun, etc.

One of the big problems that I see in bringing stats to paintball is how does one confirm an elimination. Often, multiple streams of paint may be coming in on a player. Who eliminated him? Also, what vantage point allows for someone to survey the entire field and make that determination? In my opinion, this is the key issue going forward. Can one of the most important statistics (kills) be accurately quantified using current methods?

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, one of the reasons that paintball lacks in stats is because of the field of play. I realize that's what makes part of this game so incredible (the variety which shows how a player adapts) but if you had a set field of play, dynamic roles would become more prominent. Might the game plans become redundant? Yeah. But if you're looking straight at paintball player vs paintball player, i think having a set playing field year around will really tell you who is better than who.