Fourth Down Coaching Tool Based on 10 Years of NFL Data

Ben
Mentor profile
Ben
University of Chicago, Data Science Fellow
Khan Academy, Math Content
Teach for America, Math Teacher
University of Wisconsin-Madison, Bachelor of Science
Bachelor of Science
Stanford University, Masters
Masters
Stanford University,
Stanford University, PhD
PhD
Project description

This student was really interested in sports analytics and wanted to figure out how he could use data to help coaches make better decisions. This student started by investigating a 10-year dataset from the NFL, and focused in on fourth downs and two-point conversion. These are critical moments during a football game that have a serious risk-reward calculation that contributes to win percentage. So the student looked at all of the data and asked when a team is X yards away, should they go for the fourth down or punt the ball away. For touchdowns, they considered when a team has three minutes left on the clock and down by eight points, should the team go for the two point conversion or field goal. The student put together a coaching dashboard online to deal with these scenarios in real time and calculate the probability of winning the game.

high school research online sports analytics
Fourth Down Coaching Tool

This student published his tool in conjunction with a lengthy Medium article detailing the statistical approach.

Use tool and read the medium article
Student review

Polygence is interactive and not like a lecture session, which would be pretty boring. I’ve never had a teacher or mentor in a one-on-one type of setting...so this was super different since Ben focused solely on me, rather than an entire class. Ben was probably one of the most fun teachers I've had. I don't even really consider him as a teacher. He’s more so a mentor or a friend. He’s just super nice and friendly and knowledgeable.

Mentor review

I’ve been really lucky to have had a variety of teaching and educational experiences. From teaching high school math to teaching at Stanford in a variety of areas to thinking through what education looks like at scale at Khan Academy. What makes Polygence unique is the one to one interaction.

Dr. Mark Lepper at Stanford has summarized a body of work which says that if you look back into history, sort of every ancient civilization identified that one to one tutoring, or the apprenticeship model, is the optimal way for someone to build expertise. Everyone independently converged on that, and I think we still hold that to be true today.

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