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Thread: "Trust The Process"

  1. #1
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    "Trust The Process"

    Came across a fascinating article on the evolution of sports skill. The basic premise is that as skill evolves in a sport, the role of luck becomes more and more influential in outcomes. Or skill leads to more luck. It gets a little technical but the conclusion is straightforward;

    Michael Mauboussin, a banker and academic, looked at how skill evolves over time, and how this paradoxically makes luck more important. His ideas impact not only sports but also investing and business.

    Mauboussin was inspired by Stephen Jay Gould, the famous biologist who also wondered why no baseball player had hit .400 since Ted Williams in 1941. In exploring the data, he found that batting average has been consistent since that time, which suggests hitters and pitchers have improved at the same rate.

    However, Gould found that the variance in batting average has dropped considerably from the 1940s to the first decade of the 2000s. Compared to 60 years before, a higher fraction of hitters cluster near the .260-.270 average. This implies luck is more important in distinguishing top hitters, and it makes a .400 hitter an extreme outlier.

    The evolution of skill implies a smaller variance in skill. This means luck becomes more important. This is also true for NFL quarterbacks.

    Let’s compare completion percentage for QBs in two periods: the 5 years after the NFL rule changes in 1978 that favored passing and a recent period (2013-2017). I looked at all QBs who had attempted at least 100 passes during a season.

    Unlike batting average, completion percentage has increased from 55.7% in the early period to 62.8% in the recent period. Offense has evolved faster than defense in the NFL.

    In addition, the standard deviation has dropped from 4.8% in the early period to 4.0% in the later period. The width of the bell curve has become skinnier for the completion percentage of NFL quarterbacks. This 16% decline is almost identical to the drop found by Gould in the spread of batting average.

    Interceptions are even more interesting. The pick rate dropped from 4.5% in the early period to 2.4% in the recent period, a stunning decline that has made the forward pass significantly less risky. In addition, the standard deviation has dropped 28%.

    With the clustering of NFL quarterbacks closer to the mean, luck becomes ever more important in the play of NFL quarterbacks
    .
    It struck me how true this is becoming in the NFL. Highly skilled players from both teams and yet how many games do we see each Sunday where luck played a role in the outcome? It also explains why winning consistently in the post-season is a mirage. The best of the best are on the field and so luck becomes a dominant factor. (injuries also play a part. But injuries themselves are luck driven.)

    Tomlin talks about "trusting the process" when he is building a team. Maybe this is because he understands the role of luck in games?
    If you compete in a field where luck plays a role, you should focus more on the process of how you make decisions and rely less on the short-term outcomes. The reason is that luck breaks the direct link between skill and results—you can be skillful and have a poor outcome and unskillful and have a good outcome. Think of playing blackjack at a casino. Basic strategy says that you should stand— not ask for a hit—if you are dealt a 17. That’s the proper process, and ensures that you’ll do the best over the long haul. But if you ask for a hit and the dealer flips a 4, you’ll have won the hand despite a poor process. The point is that the outcome didn’t reveal the skill of the player, only the process did. So focus on process.

    So it seems there is some method to Tomlin's madness when he speaks about the process.

    https://thepowerrank.com/top-analytics-articles/

  2. #2
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    Get ready NC.

    I'll get blasted by a few posters for suggesting luck / chance is very important in playoff games.

    But this makes a lot of sense IMO.

    As you get more and more parity, outcomes of games come down to fewer and fewer plays. If the Bucs go play some HS team, they're going to kill them because they are going to destroy them on every play.

    But if you clone the Bucs and they play themselves there is no skill advantage. So it comes down to a few plays.

    Some people will call it "clutch". But I think that "clutch" is mostly just chance / luck at important times.

    And guys who are very good end up flipping more heads than guys that aren't good. So they look like the perform better in the "clutch".

    I think the flip side of this argument is a paper on golf. I think they looked at puts for birdie and par and controlled for distance from the pin. IIRC, they found that pro golfers were worse putting for birdie from the same distances vs. when they were putting for par. I think that suggests that there is some effect of putting pressure on yourself / clutch.

    Although I think the same paper suggests that the reason is loss aversion vs. internal pressure.

    I think this is the right paper. But I didn't read through the full text to make sure it's the one I'm talking about (that I remember reading before) https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers....act_id=1419027
    Last edited by Northern_Blitz; 11-23-2021 at 09:24 AM.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Northern_Blitz View Post
    Get ready NC.

    I'll get blasted by a few posters for suggesting luck / chance is very important in playoff games.

    But this makes a lot of sense IMO.

    As you get more and more parity, outcomes of games come down to fewer and fewer plays. If the Bucs go play some HS team, they're going to kill them because they are going to destroy them on every play.

    But if you clone the Bucs and they play themselves there is no skill advantage. So it comes down to a few plays.

    Some people will call it "clutch". But I think that "clutch" is mostly just chance / luck at important times.

    And guys who are very good end up flipping more heads than guys that aren't good. So they look like the perform better in the "clutch".

    I think the flip side of this argument is a paper on golf. I think they looked at puts for birdie and par and controlled for distance from the pin. IIRC, they found that pro golfers were worse putting for birdie from the same distances vs. when they were putting for par. I think that suggests that there is some effect of putting pressure on yourself / clutch.

    Although I think the same paper suggests that the reason is loss aversion vs. internal pressure.

    I think this is the right paper. But I didn't read through the full text to make sure it's the one I'm talking about (that I remember reading before) https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers....act_id=1419027
    Interesting stuff. The article I referenced talked about the distinction from non-team sports like running a marathon. In these cases it is more about individual skill development and luck isn't really a factor. Seems to agree with what you are saying here.

  4. #4
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    Luck is important if you don't eliminate all the other sources for losing. Look at Bill Belichek. I know he cheats but what about his players. They have always been able to think. They control themselves. How many times have you seen players mess up because they get mad or upset and stop thinking. Too much emotional action can lead to error. Belichek uses discipline or regimen in everything. Stress thinking and logical football reaction. That's how he gets the most from his players. Eliminate the things you can control and then luck is not so important.
    I suppose there are other ways to do it. Draft great talent but that also involves luck. Support your players and be a players coach. We have that and how is that working. Belichek has a process that seems to work but it is difficult to implement in todays culture. He is a dinosaur.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by "BuzzNuter" View Post
    Luck is important if you don't eliminate all the other sources for losing. Look at Bill Belichek. I know he cheats but what about his players. They have always been able to think. They control themselves. How many times have you seen players mess up because they get mad or upset and stop thinking. Too much emotional action can lead to error. Belichek uses discipline or regimen in everything. Stress thinking and logical football reaction. That's how he gets the most from his players. Eliminate the things you can control and then luck is not so important.
    I suppose there are other ways to do it. Draft great talent but that also involves luck. Support your players and be a players coach. We have that and how is that working. Belichek has a process that seems to work but it is difficult to implement in todays culture. He is a dinosaur.
    its hard to separate the cheating from the success.
    Tomlinís coming back so what can you do?


  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by feltdizz View Post
    its hard to separate the cheating from the success.
    I know but look at Tom Brady. Brady is highly disciplined and regimented. He gets that from being with Belichek. He brought that to the Bucs. Arians gets out of the way and let's Brady have at it. Belichek grew up on the Annapolis campus learning from his father. Drill, drill, drill and do it again. That is a philosophy that makes less talented players perform better than phyically gifted players.

    That philosophy works in all fields of endeavor. It is to harsh for today's culture and physical gifts are valued more and a lack of discipline is overlooked.

  7. #7
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    Luck occurs when preparation meets opportunity --- Anonymous

    Pappy


    The referee said that you hit Brian Sipe too hard. Did you hit him too hard?
    I hit him as hard as I could - Jack Lambert

  8. #8
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    I don’t believe in luck. Never have, never will. You or your opponent creates opportunities, good and bad.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by "BuzzNuter" View Post
    I know but look at Tom Brady. Brady is highly disciplined and regimented. He gets that from being with Belichek. He brought that to the Bucs. Arians gets out of the way and let's Brady have at it. Belichek grew up on the Annapolis campus learning from his father. Drill, drill, drill and do it again. That is a philosophy that makes less talented players perform better than phyically gifted players.

    That philosophy works in all fields of endeavor. It is to harsh for today's culture and physical gifts are valued more and a lack of discipline is overlooked.
    I hear you but my brother also went to Annapolis and cheating wasn’t something they taught at the Naval Academy.

    Not saying Bill isn’t a good HC but I have a hard time giving him credit when he has to use cheating to help with that “discipline”

    Also waiting for Bill to do it without Brady to see who really is responsible for the success.
    Tomlinís coming back so what can you do?


  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteelBucks View Post
    I don’t believe in luck. Never have, never will. You or your opponent creates opportunities, good and bad.
    Not always. Injuries are a luck factor. And they are uncontrollable unless you are suggesting intentionally injuring to create an opportunity. And that sounds Sean Paytonesque.

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