Movers and Shakers II

Continuing this column in relation to the Blackpool manager’s job, I think the point I was trying to make is that the higher you climb in most disciplines, the harder it gets.

You are often barracked and jolted – left weary, yet with a better understanding of yourself. This is borne out in the following table which displays the average win percentage ratios when a player moves up a table tennis division:


Division                     2011/12-2012/13    2012/13-2013/14    Average

One > Premier                     4.07                            4.15                     4.11

Two > One                            4.02                            2.53                     3.27

Three > Two                         2.99                            1.83                     2.41

Four > Three                        1.65                            1.81                     1.73

  • Each number based on data from 4-7 players

Player ‘A’ in the 2011/12 season for example might think himself a giant with an 80% win record in Division Four, but the likelihood is that this would be reduced to a mere 48% once in Division Three (80 divided by 1.65).

If the same player were to go even higher, his figure would tumble by a ratio of 2.99 to just 16% and that is before the fierce winds of Division One and the Premier host his talents (if ever) indicating a final figure of just 1%.

It is a relatively straightforward methodology ascertained using limited player data, but it quite uncannily reveals across two sets of statistics (over nearly three seasons) the increasing difficulty of rising the divisions, thus reaching the top.

Jumping from Four to Three and One to the Premier seems particularly consistent, however going from Three to Two or Two to One would appear to have got easier judging from the declining ratios. That is one theory anyway. Another is that the players going up are technically better prepared.

Mike Audsley of Meadow Ben B is a good example of this (ratio 1.17 between 2011-13) and with the 2013/14 season yet to finish, Hilton E’s Wilson Parker currently stands at an impressively low ratio of just 1.05 (96.30% divided by 91.67%).

Such figures obviously pull down the overall average but they also stand as a testament to good coaching, commitment, belief and a solid dream; categories/virtues I know young Parker has in abundance (strong parental support being another key factor I would suggest).

This leans into a conversation I had with Bury cricketer, Matthew Metcalfe the other day concerning success and its key ingredients. He was fortunate to attend a talk in Salford by three-time Super League Grand Final winner, Brian Noble during which Nobby (as he is affectionately known) alluded to the absolute need for a dream or vision.

No matter how much rhetoric you provide to an athlete or player, there has to be an overriding vision that the team can buy into; not a cheap, prescriptive gimmick but rather a firm, achievable target – genuine desire on the part of the collective.

I have scoured the divisions and spoken to numerous people in an effort to understand what exactly it is that undermines or improves a person’s win percentage. Many answers have come back (respectively): a broken bat; demanding shifts at work pre-match; refusing to give up even at 10-6 down; playing in both the Bolton and Bury leagues; more practice; strength, mental agility and experience; incentive of winning the division.

My conclusion? Bluff generally only impresses a bluffer. No interview with Karl Oyston thus far.



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