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PROTRACK » GENERAL » handicaps baffle me

handicaps baffle me

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1 handicaps baffle me on Mon Feb 04, 2013 9:58 am

Whispers


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Full marks to Luke Buchannan.
I have always been told Run off the handicap you are given and dont complain.
Luke went back to back and I felt it strange that there was only 1/2 meter difference in the marks of the two wins given the success that Lukes had.
I have done some research and found that Luke won off 12.75 2012 Camden 120m ,didnt run at Hecktorville 2012, had 12.00m at Loxton 2012 where he made the final and then went out to 12.75m for Flagstaff.
So he made the final; at Loxton yet got his .75 back by having only one run.
So by running this season his mark had gone out to 13.00m by Marion where he won and then was pulled back to 12.25 for Camden 2013.
All I can say to those other athletes that run week in and week out without getting lifts, is keep running ,keep trying and keep smiling at the handicapper.
I apologise in advance if any of this information is incorrect but its what I have looked up on the saal website and this one as well.

2 the elephant on Wed Feb 06, 2013 10:03 pm

Stokesy

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Once again, the elephant in the room gets a mention.

The SAAL handicapping system is a mysterious business.

Does anyone really care?

We have local lobbying (some coaches do it a lot better than others or so it seems).

We have interstate competitors, those who come to SAAL events with little or no recent SAAL form, and get given a mark. The over35s 120m at the Bay Sheff was dominated (again) by interstate visitors, so much so that I nearly quit the SAAL (again).

We have newcomers (to the SAAL as a whole, or runners trying a new distance) who get impossible initial marks and then get "lifts" until they become competitive - for me this process took most of three seasons and then two years off the SAAL with summer and winter training. My first two seasons without even making a final - that was extremely challenging for me. I see new runners nowadays winning sashes in their first season.

We have "hits", when sash winners get to run further after they win a race.
For me, it has taken two years to get back on the podium in the 200m following a big win at TTG in 2011.

How does it all work?

The human being who is the handicapper gets to make a lot of value judgments about whether runners are doing their best (or not, for whatever reason), about a particular track being fast or slow or short or long on a particular day, about what is a fair "hit" and when to give "lifts" and how much of a lift to give.

Then the numbers get crunched and the marks are published for the next event, sometimes with errors, some of which get noticed and corrected.

All a mystery.

Does it have to be this way?

We have computers nowadays to do the arithmetic.

We have the VAL system where a lot of the value judgments are less mysterious and are done out in the open so that everyone can see what is going on.

Whispers has remarked on a particular case - can we widen the discussion and maybe talk about changes to the SAAL handicapping system?

3 Re: handicaps baffle me on Thu Feb 07, 2013 12:09 am

DizzyRunner


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Did you mean a change to the system, or the 'creation' of a system?

Dizzy goes dizzy trying to find the guidelines for the SAAL competition. A link to the 'system' would be great as a starting point to further discussion.

4 Re: handicaps baffle me on Thu Feb 07, 2013 12:12 am

Stokesy

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Dizzy

for sprint events see ww w. InsideLeonsBrain. com.au

for distance events see ww w. InsideGarrysBrain. com.au

You will need a specially equipped browser



Last edited by Stokesy on Thu Feb 07, 2013 1:17 pm; edited 3 times in total (Reason for editing : to de activate the "joke" hyper links)

5 Re: handicaps baffle me on Thu Feb 07, 2013 12:11 pm

timj


It’s all too easy to knock a handicapper or the decisions they make and is uncalled for.
Fact is until we actually sit in that seat we won’t fully appreciate how tough a job it would be.

A large amount of handicapper discretion and judgement needs to be maintained in any “system”. You cannot make it too mechanical or based purely on crunching numbers with computers as there are way too many variables.

There’s also the issue of “handbrakes” which, unfortunately, has become an accepted, to some, part of pro running over many decades. I have heard it called a number of things over the years including “playing the game”, “pulling the handbrake” or the “Easter Bunny” (only comes out at Easter ie Stawell). Whether you agree with it or not , (and I personally hate the idea of running anywhere under your best.) it’s there, and the handicapper needs the power to control and enforce it.
A ridged, set system of handicapping could “possibly” be open to more manipulation from such persons ???????……….i’ll put that question out there…

People will always question the system but let’s look at this years results through the SAAL.
I think most of us would agree the league is in a very healthy position, numbers are up, the meetings are exciting, the racing each week is hard, tough and a joy to watch.
The winners, bar a few exceptions, have been varied and a majority of races run within inches.
The handicappers , using the existing system, are doing a great job.
With the current system there is process to discuss your handicap and/or the handicapping process with the handicapper, maybe some should be trying that before going on a public forum and, in most cases (not all), hiding under an alias.
It may be a little less of a mystery then.

Of course systems and processes can always be reviewed and improved. Debate is healthy and productive but there’s an appropriate way of doing it, questioning with links to inside a handicappers brain…….probably isn’t it.

Far too often with this sport people are more worried about what mark they, or others, get for a race instead of the actual running they do on the track.
We’re seeing this on another thread at the moment.
Asafa has got all the “Easter Bunny’s” tails wagging.

6 Re: handicaps baffle me on Thu Feb 07, 2013 1:15 pm

Stokesy

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TMJ, yes indeed. My apologies if my joke is offensive to you or to anyone else.
I will edit the post in question so as to de-activate the links.

The joke was not intended to impugn or criticise the individual handicappers - I honour the work they do and I agree that their task is difficult and their performance is generally very good.

My intention is to discuss ways to get a better system, where the load on the handicappers is reduced and the performance of the system (not just the individual handicappers) is measured and improved.

As discussed in earlier posts on this topic, I see some merit in the VAL system but I find it too complicated.

How do the VAL athletes feel about their handicapping system?

7 Re: handicaps baffle me on Thu Feb 07, 2013 1:17 pm

Whispers


ProTrack Star
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I guess my concern is ,IF Buchannan had not have won at Marion he would have been lining up in the Camden 120m last Sunday with .25m more than when he won the year before.
Can someone explain how he got his penalty back for winning last years 120m at Camden after only one run ,which was at Loxton where he was placed.
Could this have been handicap error that went unnoticed at the time or is there a printing error in the results.

8 Re: handicaps baffle me on Thu Feb 07, 2013 1:57 pm

youngy

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Whispers, read TimJ's post. Probably as well said as it can be on handicapping.

In particular the part about 'handbrakes'.

Notwithstanding there were several athletes in the Camden 120m who would love to have won a Camden sash......But in my view had the Camden 120m race been worth $10,000, Buchanan would have been lucky to make the final, let alone win it.

Say no more......




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"Let's Go While We're Young"

9 Re: handicaps baffle me on Thu Feb 07, 2013 3:01 pm

Red leg


Agreed Youngy!! Timmy J's post was briliant and agree certain athletes if it was worth more could have done some serious damage to Buchanan on the weekend. Nature of the sport unfortunatly.

PS Youngy when/if are we going to see the Camden Carnival Review.. Have been waiting for the read all week.

10 Re: handicaps baffle me on Thu Feb 07, 2013 3:24 pm

Whispers


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youngy wrote:Whispers, read TimJ's post. Probably as well said as it can be on handicapping.

In particular the part about 'handbrakes'.

Notwithstanding there were several athletes in the Camden 120m who would love to have won a Camden sash......But in my view had the Camden 120m race been worth $10,000, Buchanan would have been lucky to make the final, let alone win it.

Say no more......
You are missing the point,there were a heap of non tryers last Sunday as well as the week before.
Tell me though how come Buchannan ran off 12.75 at Camden and won last year.
Didnt run at Hectorville.
Ran at the rich Loxton meeting off 12.25 and made the final so was more than competetable.
Yet was back on 12.75 for his next run at Flagstaff.
I know this is 12 months ago but come on, in comparison to previous years the handcapping pattern shows no pattern of similarity.
This post has nothing to do as to who was trying or who wasnt ,Buchannan should never have been off an inflated mark so soon.

11 Re: handicaps baffle me on Thu Feb 07, 2013 3:39 pm

youngy

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Fair point Whispers.
Can't answer your question, other than to say, Buchanan's been around a long time and only won his first Gift last season so maybe the handicapper is giving him a chance to make up for all the years he wasn't competitive.


_________________
"Let's Go While We're Young"

12 Re: handicaps baffle me on Thu Feb 07, 2013 4:02 pm

timj


Whispers

Perhaps if you have concerns with the system write to the league and seek council with Leon. (the correct process) We know he is very approachable and while probably not going into details on an individuals mark, he may give you an insight to the “mystery” of handicapping as it has been referred to…..

This may mean breaking your anonymity though……….

Obviously Luke has you rattled (good on you Luke!) so the other options that may be open to you at present are:

1. if you are an athlete: Work on running quicker, to either catch or run away from him

or 2. if you are a coach : work on your athletes to run quicker, to either catch or run away from him

Running is a pretty simple sport , can only control what you do,.

Is questioning another athletes mark in a public forum fair and in the spirit of the sport??

13 Re: handicaps baffle me on Thu Feb 07, 2013 11:06 pm

StevenJones73


Has everyone else missed the fact that other athletes had their chances in this race?

Looking back through the results there were 10 times in either the heats or the semi finals that were faster than Luke's winning time in the final. Perhaps some of those athletes were pulling on the hand brake a bit and Luke just took his chance while he had it.

Just so there is no confusion, I run at Coastal Districts with Luke and I have seen first hand how hard he has worked this year to get his results. As have the other 3 winners at Camden from the Coastal Districts stable.

Perhaps the question put by Whispers could have been asked as a general question about handicaps instead of singling out an individual athlete.

14 Re: handicaps baffle me on Thu Feb 07, 2013 11:35 pm

ToM

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StevenJones73 wrote:Perhaps the question put by Whispers could have been asked as a general question about handicaps instead of singling out an individual athlete.

You might be correct, Steven, and I don't doubt that Whispers had no intention of impugning your squadmate, but try to consider it from the other direction. If Whispers had have raised his query with only a general question, he would have been likely pushed to provide specifics or risk being dismissed as misinformed. Without the specifics, the only answers that could have been provided would have been vague and general in nature, and largely unhelpful.

His query was legitimate, and represents a much larger question that perplexes many of us. I don't believe there was intention to question the conduct of your squadmate, nor compare it to the conduct of others in the race. It was simply a question raised to try to provide Whispers with greater insight into the processes behind the decisions taken by the handicapper.

I can't imagine that anyone would actually believe that less information about the handicapping process is beneficial. We all benefit from predictable, equitable handicapping.

15 Re: handicaps baffle me on Fri Feb 08, 2013 9:04 am

Stokesy

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ToM, you say "I can't imagine that anyone would actually believe that less information about the handicapping process is beneficial. We all benefit from predictable, equitable handicapping."

Sadly you are wrong, so I believe.

As I see it, there is a minority of SAAL coaches who work the system by private lobbying on behalf of their athletes and, as a result, their squads are large and their results are exceptional.

So, as I see it, the rest of us miss out.

I did an analysis of 0ver35s 120m marks leading up to the Bay Sheff.

The results made me want to puke.

There is a saying in the quality control world - "If you cannot measure it, you cannot manage it and you cannot improve it."

How do we measure the success of the SAAL handicapping system?

If we take the view that a few large successful squads are the best thing, then we have a successful system now.

If we take a wider view, such as your suggestion "We all benefit from predictable, equitable handicapping.", then the current system is in need of urgent improvement.

Clearly very few other athletes are prepared to speak out in public on this issue - I am used to being outspoken and I am prepared to cop the consequences.

Perhaps ProTrack forum could do a poll of members to get some idea of how athletes really feel.

So, can we have a poll on this?

Again, I want to express my apologies to anyone offended by my expression of my views. These views are my own views and I speak only for myself.

Again, I honour the integrity and the work of the handicappers who do a difficult job to the best of their ability.

And (if I do not get banned for speaking out), I intend to keep running with my best efforts for as long as I am able, because I love this sport.

16 Re: handicaps baffle me on Fri Feb 08, 2013 9:40 am

No Chance


In horse racing the chief handicapper is quite open about the process for applying handicaps to certain horses..cant see why the same cant apply to SAAL.

17 Re: handicaps baffle me on Fri Feb 08, 2013 10:02 am

timj


No chance – your dead right and I think you’ll find the SAAL handicappers are exactly the same.
You just have to ask & do it the correct way!
Does the chief horse handicapper jump on a public forum, under an alias , justifying the weight he has given a horse??? No I don’t think so…..

Stokesy mentioned that a minority of coaches lobby the handicapper.
I think you’ll find this avenue is open to anyone, should they wish to pursue it, and is within the rules of the league. The process is clear & transparent and open to everyone, not just coaches.
If you choose not to, well who’s fault is that ??
You don’t miss out, you’ve decided not too.
Instead of following procedures in place to find out the answers to their questions, people to easily choose to air their greviences on a website…….

The second issue at hand is the issue of questioning the handicap of another athlete.
Again, if you are so worried about it, the avenue above is available to pursue, but again the easy option is taken:

1. question it on a public forum instead of going to the source of the answer
2. question an individuals mark AFTER they have won the race. I note your “disclaimer” in the first post whispers but, regardless, it still sours Lukes deserved win
3. hide under an alias

Lukey Buchanan : I so hope you get up at Hectorville mate!!!

18 Re: handicaps baffle me on Fri Feb 08, 2013 10:05 am

timj


No chance – your dead right and I think you’ll find the SAAL handicappers are exactly the same.
You just have to ask & do it the correct way!
Does the chief horse handicapper jump on a public forum, under an alias , justifying the weight he has given a horse??? No I don’t think so…..

Stokesy mentioned that a minority of coaches lobby the handicapper.
I think you’ll find this avenue is open to anyone, should they wish to pursue it, and is within the rules of the league. The process is clear & transparent and open to everyone, not just coaches.
If you choose not to, well who’s fault is that ??
You don’t miss out, you’ve decided not too.
Instead of following procedures in place to find out the answers to their questions, people to easily choose to air their greviences on a website…….

The second issue at hand is the issue of questioning the handicap of another athlete.
Again, if you are so worried about it, the avenue above is available to pursue, but again the easy option is taken:

1. question it on a public forum instead of going to the source of the answer
2. question an individuals mark AFTER they have won the race. I note your “disclaimer” in the first post whispers but, regardless, it still sours Lukes deserved win
3. hide under an alias

Lukey Buchanan : I so hope you get up at Hectorville mate!!!

19 Re: handicaps baffle me on Fri Feb 08, 2013 10:46 am

No Chance


Horse handicapper normally does it on a radio interview which is relayed into print media but now & then does jump online and answer questions about handicapping. Its a bit more open and only has to be explained once rather than 20 people ringing him asking the same question.

20 Re: handicaps baffle me on Fri Feb 08, 2013 11:01 am

Whispers


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Definately not having a go at Luke and sorry to everyone if it seems that way.
You can only run off the handicap you are given.
My point though is, did the handicapper make a mistake with Lukes mark for Flagstaff last season and because it was the last 120m race for the season and no one was really gunning for it, it wasnt picked up ,hence why he started on such a lucrative at the beginning of this season.
Im sure the 2011 winner of the Camden 120m would have liked to have got his mark back just as quick.
Consistancy is all thats asked.

21 horse handicapping on Fri Feb 08, 2013 11:12 am

Guest

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Guest
all horses in vic have their rating adjusted after every race 'click onto horse after race results will show details
when nomination's come out each horse rating is shown


highest to lowest after acceptance's the highest rated is given top weight eg 60 kg the differance between pro running is that the race is limited to a certain number of starters so that if you run dead your ratings go down but you dont get into race';i could go into more detail
,thats how i have made a small fortune?

22 Re: handicaps baffle me on Fri Feb 08, 2013 11:18 am

Guest

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I think the question is valid, I dont believe the intentions of Whispers was to be malice, albeit the singling out of an athlete doesn't sit well. Luke I believe works damn hard and its showing right at the moment.

As for the handbrake, I think I accidentally left mine on in the heat and nearly fell over at the start, luckily I got through, not that I was that great in the semi, but I think my time was slightly better.

Stokesy, we know we had a thread on the over 35's handicaps a while back, I think while on the surface some where benefiting more than others but on the whole it appears that Leon has things right as you only have to look at the Brighton 120m over 35's final and there was nothing in it, as with most meets this year. The Bay was different with the inter-stater's competing.

I don't think any of the over 35's are applying the "handbrake" none that I have noticed anyway.

Its easy for an individual to have a bad day and look like the handbrake is being applied and on the other hand sometimes everything goes right on the day. You can have a period where you think you should be winning, but not, you start asking questions of yourself, your marks etc and wonder if you should still be in the game and getting too old for it. The bang you string a few together then people start questioning you.

I wonder how many times Leon has been approached in the appropriate manner this year?
I say you get what your given and get on with it, but sometimes it doesn't hurt to ask.

Tim, remember, beware its a trap! Smile

23 Re: handicaps baffle me on Fri Feb 08, 2013 11:25 am

timj


whispers: if you are who i think you are then i know you dont mean any malice. In fact if you are who i think you are, with your untapped potential, handicaps wont be an issue.
However the point is, in the time you've taken to post on here, you could have emailed the league office and you would have had your answer by now!
Nothing wrong with having questions its about the right process to get the asnwer.

24 Re: handicaps baffle me on Fri Feb 08, 2013 12:54 pm

Guest

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Timj: if you think you know who whispers is, do tell do tell bounce

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