We coaches throw around the term "work rate" alot, especially when we're talking with players. Sometimes it seems like an easy answer for every selection question ...
Player: Hey coach, what do I need to do to get into the starting lineup?
Coach: Well, I'd really like to see you up your work rate.
So what is it? Simply put, it's how hard the player works on the pitch, from start to finish. While I was working with the former girls U19 coach, I was first exposed to a statistical method for calculating work rate (thank you Karl!). I did a little tweaking of my own, and present to you the result (im sure it's still quite imperfect).
This method requires a full statistical analysis of a match, preferably using video. Then i use an algorithm that awards points for the following actions by a player:
- Ball Touch - 1 point
- Link - 1 point for the first action at a breakdown
- Ball Running - 1 point
- Tackles - 1 point for each Level 1 tackle, 2 points for every level 2 tackle (no gain or loss by ball carrier), 3 points for a level 3 tackle
- Poach - one point
- Kick - 1 point
- Pass - 1 point
This gives you a raw number reprentative of a player's workrate during a particular match. If you go a step further, you can determine a players "effective" workrate ...
- Missed Tackle - minus 2 points
- Knock, forward pass, or other handling errors - minus 1 points
- Turnover - minus 2 points (only 1 point if the result of a minor infraction)
- Penalty - minus 2 points
Here's a screenshot of some stats I did after a match my team played last year (click to enlarge) ...
I've only included players 1-9 here, and have removed their names. As you can see - it's a telling story. Taking the time to do these sorts of stats really helps you get a total picture of a players performance. When meeting with players, you've got lots of hard data to identify a plan for improvement. This sort of data is also helpful for selections, WITH CERTAIN CAVAETS:
- From game to game stats vary widely, through no fault of the players. If in one match, you play a team that loves to attack the fringe, your tight forwards will have more opportunites to tackle, poach, ruck, etc than they might in another game. If you play a team that loves to go wide, your wings will find themselves working harder and your forward's stats might drop off.
- You've got to exercise caution when comparing positionally. For example, the scrumhalf will always have a high work rate, as long as she's doing her job. They have the opportunity to touch the ball more that other players, so the stats will reflect that.
- Make sure you annotate how long a player was in. Some players may have a high work rate for 40 minutes, yet when you look at them for 80 minutes, the numbers don't change (this is player who "paces" him/herself).
- Stats are a great tool for positional assessments - which lock is working the hardest, which prop, which wing? Is there anyone who's where they need to be, but not being effective (WR vs EWR?) Is it better to split halves between two particular players, and therefore get a higher EWR over 80 minutes?
Anway - those are my thoughts on Work Rate. There are several commercial packages out there to help you with statistics, but I don't have any. If you decide to try it out, drop me a line.