Product Review: Statto

tSG was given a sneak peak at a new stat taking app. Read our review here!

During the last ten years, the world of Ultimate has seen vast changes. The number of players around the world has exploded and that exponential growth, along with the technological advances that have changed everyone’s lives immeasurably, has led to some old ways of doing things falling by the wayside.

If you wanted to watch games from the best American teams ten years ago, it was via DVDs bought from American sites. If you wanted to learn about different coaching methods, you’d need to go to different coaching sessions or buy a book. If you wanted to get the news on what was going on around the world, you’d have to rely on tournament results posted sporadically on a number of websites or on mailing lists like Britdisc and Eurodisc. Ultimate-specific fitness didn’t really exist, either.

Nowadays, that’s all pretty much obsolete. While experiencing different styles of coaching is still hugely beneficial, if you want to pick up some new drills you can visit YouTube or use a service like Flik. If you want to watch the best games from teams around the world, YouTube has you covered there too. There are a number of Ultimate-based fitness services that you can access in the UK or, obviously, online. Tournament results are now not only easier to get, but news websites like this one mean there’s usually some more in-depth coverage you can find as well.

There are still a few anachronisms though. One such vestige of a simpler time has been challenged by Sam Rayner, a player for Great Britain Mixed at WUGC in London. Sam, an app developer by trade, noticed that while vast leaps forward had been made in most aspects of the game, one aspect that had remained relatively staid was the recording of basic things like who played what point, who scored and assisted, who got blocks and so on.

People have started to pay more attention to these stats more recently – they’ve been recording goals and assists ever since Nationals moved to the south coast, for example – but they’re almost always recorded on paper with a pen, and it’s tough to track anything more detailed with that approach. Pro Ultimate teams have made some advances with statistics but it’s difficult to replicate that approach when you’re playing practice games against a local team in the park. So, Sam designed Statto.

Statto: a new stat taking app for Ultimate on iOS.
Statto: a new stat taking app for Ultimate on iOS.

Statto is an iOS app that can record pretty much everything you’d need for a game. You can track passes, turns, assists and goals in a pretty easy to pick up way. Once you’ve recorded an entire game of data the app will present you with a handy screen showing a number of aggregations – pass completion percentage, scoring percentage, where your assists and turns came mapped out on a field and so on. It also lets you track things like the wind direction and speed, so you can see how your team does in various different conditions.

“I think that stats are a relatively untapped resource that could play an important role in the development of Ultimate,” Sam explains when asked why he decided to design Statto.

“Most strategies at the moment are based on a mixture of inherited wisdom and trial and error without a lot of objective analysis to back them up.

“I wanted to make stat keeping easy enough that any extra pair of hands on the sideline could take over and detailed enough to provide genuinely useful insights for coaches and captains.”

He also credits the recent articles on FiveThirtyEight by Ultimate coach and political journalist Jody Avirgan and the work by Sean Childers as influences on the decision to create the app.

The app is very intuitive. I skipped all the (very helpful, as it turns out) instructions and went right to recording stats and after a few minutes of trial and error I pretty much had it down. It’s simple to use, doesn’t require much (if any) knowledge of the game to complete and could easily be done by players on the sideline. Obviously the downside to it is that the player recording things won’t be able to sideline, but realistically there should be enough players outside of that person to do an effective job. If your team has two lines all you’d need to do is assign a member of each line to recording stats and you’d be set.

The real benefits of this will be during real games, where you’ll be able to see from where on the pitch your team is getting the bulk of assists, where you’ve been turning over and where you’ve been getting blocks. That will give you a lot of insight – how does your team do when breaking the force, are you getting beat long too often and which parts of the field should you be trying to use on offence.

An easy to use UI makes recording stats for your team.
An easy to use UI makes recording stats for your team.

One (admittedly minor) downside is that outside of those games it might be tough to use in a beneficial way. It could certainly be used at training, but the likelihood is you’d need two phones – one for each team – as the app will only track one team (since that’s all you’d need in a game).

The app is free to download, but after a free two-week trial period it costs £29.99. That does cover you for life, though, as there’s no annual cost for renewal, and you can use it on both an iPhone and an iPad after purchase. There’s also no limit to how many teams you can put on there (other than the memory limit of your phone, that is). Future updates could feasibly include features like tracking every pass which unlocks the possibility of monitoring and measuring yards gained or lost per game, per pass (and type of pass) or per player along with other potentially crucial nuggets of information.

The app has been designed by an Ultimate player for Ultimate players to use, and that shows. Sam understands what’s needed from a stats recording platform and the result of his work is something that every team in the country would benefit from. At £30, it’s an excellent deal for any coach or captain that wants a better idea of just how their team is performing. Statto is a welcome addition to the burgeoning Ultimate resource market, and one that could very well set the sport at large on a path to better understanding how to play and score more efficiently and effectively. Improvements in statistical analysis have led to vast changes in how baseball, basketball and even football is played in recent years. If we have access to more data, who’s to say Ultimate isn’t next?

Verdict: Get it.