A Guide to Takedown Efficiency
As wrestling fans, coaches, or participants, we know that supplementing takedowns with good timing and solid mat wrestling is essential to successful wrestling tactics. We understand that, unless you are Jason Nolf, it can be difficult to build an overwhelming lead with “1-point” takedowns. What I mean by “1-point takedown” is a takedown in which an escape is eventually conceded without having secured near-fall or accumulated significant riding time.
Ideally, we want to increase our takedown efficiency by either 1) Scoring a 4 or 6-point move from neutral; 2) obtaining near-fall points sometime after a takedown is awarded; or 3) riding-out the period or match to prevent an escape with either good mat wrestling or exceptional timing (i.e. takedown with less than 15 seconds left in the period).
For an example of how takedown efficiency is meaningful, go ahead and watch the Alex Meyer/Mark Hall match posted below:
Takedowns for each wrestler were the same—both guys notching two in the match—and neither wrestler secured any near-fall points. And yet, Alex Meyer scored a 7-5 victory. Meyer, unlike Hall, scored his takedowns late in the periods (under 30 seconds) which allowed him a greater opportunity to ride-out each period (which he does). Therefore, we can surmise that Meyer was more efficient with his takedowns than Hall–thus playing a critical role in the outcome of the match.
So, having reflected on this match, if we believe takedown efficiency to be important and we find it worthy of our time to explore it further, why not pursue a method or metric that attempts to measure efficiency in some form?
I suppose the point of this is post is to attempt to place a number to these situations that might confirm our conventional thinking. In doing so, let us first examine the scoring opportunities that present themselves when a takedown is secured.
Takedown Sequence: An Operational Definition
The occurence of takedown and the ensuing mat action establishes a time period that I call a Takedown Sequence.
Takedown Sequence as explained in 3 phases:
As the underpants gnomes best demonstrated in an episode of South Park, ideas are often best explained in phases.
So here goes:
Phase 1– Takedown
We all know the sound; the ritualistic, low-pitched bellow of “Twoooooo” that buzzes across a crowded gym. This is our marker; this is where our takedown sequence begins. Well, officially our takedown sequence begins when the ref—not the crowd—awards the takedown, but you get the picture.
Phase 2– Mat Action
Because the wrestling action doesn’t immediately stop with the awarded takedown (with the exception of a takedown in SV or a buzzer-beater), the subsequent mat action makes up the second phase of a takedown sequence. This is our meat. This time period can last from anywhere from a second to nearly 3-minutes.
Phase 3– End of Sequence
The end of a takedown sequence occurs when the mat action ends. This means that any of the following happens:
- A pin
- An escape is awarded
- Time runs out in the period or match
- A reversal is awarded the opposing wrestler, followed by either of the 3 outcomes listed above
Scoring a Takedown Sequence with NPG-OTS
Now that we have defined the concept of a takedown sequence, the next matter we encounter is determining how to score it. For this we will use Net Points Gained in an Offensive Takedown Sequence (NPG-OTS).
Net Points Gained in an Offensive Takedown Sequence (NPG-OTS) will be defined here as the amount of points a wrestler has netted within a takedown sequence that he or she initiated. This is determined as:
(Points secured by Wrestler A) – (Points secured by wrestler B)
Possibilities for points earned are as follows:
Wrestler A– The wrestler who scores takedown
(2)- Initial Takedown.
(2) For each 2-point near-fall that occurs within mat action
(4) For each 4-point near-fall that occurs within mat action
(1) For each stall point or other penalty point by wrestler-B
(2) For each Reversal after giving up reversal
Note: near-fall points are awarded in the case of a pin taking place
(1) Escape after giving up a reversal
Wrestler B– Wrestler who gives up takedown
No points are possible
(1) For each Stall-point or other penalty point on wrestler-A
(2) For each Reversal
(2) For each 2-point near-fall after securing reversal
(4) For each 4-point near-fall after securing reversal
Example 1: Wrestler-A gets a takedown, rides for 25 seconds, and gives up an escape to Wrestler B (which means the end of takedown sequence has occurred)
- Wrestler A: 2 points for takedown in phase 1 (always 2); 0 points in mat action in phase 2; 0 points in phase 3 = 2 points
- Wrestler B: 0 points possible for phase 1; 0 points in phase 2; 1 point in phase 3 = 1 point
(Wrestler A points) – (Wrestler B points) = 2-1 = 1
Wrestler A’s Net Points Gained in an Offensive Takedown Sequence for that offensive takedown sequence = 1. This would be considered a low efficiency takedown sequence.
Example 2: Wrestler A gets a takedown, rides for 20 seconds, secures a 4-point near-fall, and time eventually runs out in the period (end of sequence).
- Wrestler A: 2 points for takedown in phase 1; 4 points in mat action in phase 2, and 0 points at end of period for phase 3 = 6 points
- Wrestler B; 0 points possible for phase 1 0 points in phase 2), 0 points at end of period for phase 3= 0 points
NPG-OTS in this takedown sequence = 6. This would be considered a high efficiency takedown sequence. We count the near-fall in the takedown sequence because the opportunity for near-fall is directly impacted by the occurrence of the initial takedown. Without the takedown, the near-fall is never achieved.
Takedown Sequence- Efficiency and Volume
Calculating Takedown Efficiency Score (TES)
Takedown Efficiency Score (TES) = Combined Net Points Gained in an Offensive Takedown Sequences (C NPG-OTS) / number of Takedowns
This is the sum of Net Points Gained in every offensive takedown sequence and divided by the total number of takedowns. Number of takedowns and takedown sequences are always the same. This gives us the average amount of points scored for each takedown sequence and tells us how proficient at scoring a wrestler is when faced with this opportunity. The higher the score, the more efficient a wrestler is. This metric gives us an idea of who is doing most with their scoring opportunities. An average score will most likely fall somewhere between 1 and 2.
Factors that contribute to high efficiency:
- Takedown + Rideout
- 4 or 6-point move + Rideout
- Takedown which leads to top wrestling and obtaining near-fall points
- Takedown + sequence leading to Pin (Max efficiency)
- Takedown + Forcing a stall point from the bottom wrestler
Factors that contribute to low efficiency
- Takedown + escape
- Takedown + Reversal while getting ridden out
- Takedown + Reversal + conceding near-fall points or pin
- Takedown + Penalty point such as locked hands or stalling on top
Takedown Efficiency Score is the average points a wrestler will net in a typical offensive takedown sequence
Volume– Takedowns/7 minutes (TD/7)
Though efficiency is important, we must also keep track of the volume of offensive takedown sequences (i.e. every time a takedown occurs). If you aren’t scoring many takedowns, your efficiency matters less. On the other hand, a high volume of takedowns can help neutralize the impact of low efficiency.
Calculating Takedown Efficiency X Volume Score (TEVS)
Takedown efficiency score X Takedowns/7minutes = TEVS
This score resembles how many points you are netting from offensive takedown sequences in a typical 7-minute match. Volume and efficiency are factored and then adjusted for a typical 7-minute match.
Pins that are the result of a takedown sequence assume max takedown efficiency. The total number of pins that occur within an offensive takedown sequence are recorded as Number of pins acquired in an offensive takedown sequence (Pins-OTS)
This something you could keep track of over the course of a dual, tournament or season for either individual matches or a team. Of course, always consider that quality of competition matters, but you can always go back and try to figure out splits (i.e. vs. Top-10 opponents). The higher the sample size, the better the stat reflects a trend. Here’s an example of using these metrics in last year’s dual between Oklahoma State and Cornell.
|Volume||Efficiency X Volume||
|Cornell||Efficiency||Volume||Efficiency X Volume||Max Efficiency|
|Wrestler||Match seconds||TD||C NPG-OTS||TES||TD/7||TEVS||Pins-OTS|
Side-by-side Look at the dual (Point differential included):
|23||Final Dual Score||19|
Oklahoma State dominated takedowns in this dual, thus creating more scoring sequence opportunities. While Cornell was more efficient once securing the takedowns (thanks mostly to Brandon Womack), the volume wasn’t near enough to make it competitive with OSU—as reflected in the TEVS score in which OSU doubled the amount points accumulated via takedown sequences (per 7-minutes).
Stats here would suggest that, while Cornell kept it close with OSU, they overachieved for the most part by making the most out of some takedown opportunities. If the dual were wrestled again, I would expect OSU to extend their margin of victory.
Now, because riding time points exist, logic tells us that a takedown with 90 seconds of riding time is inherently more efficient than a takedown with 15 seconds of riding time. Though not reflected in the efficiency stats above, you can still keep track of riding time that is secured within an offensive takedown sequence.
It would be awesome if we could determine a riding time probability score that reflects the amount of riding time achieved, but that is beyond my capability. You see this in other sports, such as baseball, with things like win-probability and run probability, but that requires an incredible amount of data tracked across decades of situational outcomes. So while we aren’t quite at that point with wrestling right now, knowing the riding time still holds some importance.
Below you see that the RT-point probability was around the same for each team. Both teams averaged nearly identical seconds of riding time after securing a takedown. In this case, neither team held an advantage in takedown efficiency as far as riding time is concerned.
|455 (7:35)||Riding Time acquired via Offensive Takedown Sequences||186 (3:06)|
|20.682||Avg. amount of Riding Time acquired per OTS (seconds)||20.667|
My hope here is that by now you see some sort of reasoning in this conscious effort to measure takedown efficiency. It’s by no means a perfect metric, but like Point Differential, I believe it’s a step in the right direction towards a more reflective wrestling community. I’m also hopeful that the work here could be of some use in tracking the progress of a wrestler and/or alerting us to areas that need improvement. As the season moves forward, my goal is to show tendencies that emerge from various individual and team performances. And as a final note, just like we can measure how efficient a wrestler’s offense is, we can also do the same for defense (i.e. how good is (insert wrestler) at limiting an opponent’s takedown efficiency).