How valuable are bumpdowns to a contending team?

leech

Semi-Pro
I’ve come to the realization that players bumped down from a higher level are not the answer for teams that are trying to get to Nationals. Based on anecdotal evidence from results this season among dropdowns to 4.0 and 3.5, I haven’t found them to be top tier players at the level they dropped to. Sure, they’re solid, but not in the top 10% at their level, which I think you’d need if you are captaining a team expecting to go to Nationals.

It seems the top players at a given level are good enough to be middle of the pack at the next level the following year. And bc middle of the pack players do not get bumped down, I guess it makes sense that players who have bumped down will not be among the best players at the lower level. If we accept that as being true, then captains who are aspiring to take a team to Nationals need not seek out a team full of bump-down players (at least, they should not expect to get to Nationals if the majority of their top players are bump downs). Exception for those who were bumped down due to ratings anomalies.

Do you agree?
 

Moveforwardalways

Hall of Fame
Anyone at the very top of their level manipulates their rating to stay right there. It’s not a coincidence that the same guys are rated 3.98 every single year. If a player is not trying to do this, there will be much more variability. If a guy finishes 3.98 on TLS every year for 5 straight years, that’s a 4.5 player who is sandbagging. And it’s those players that are top 10% of level.
 

leech

Semi-Pro
Anyone at the very top of their level manipulates their rating to stay right there. It’s not a coincidence that the same guys are rated 3.98 every single year. If a player is not trying to do this, there will be much more variability. If a guy finishes 3.98 on TLS every year for 5 straight years, that’s a 4.5 player who is sandbagging. And it’s those players that are top 10% of level.
I agree there is validity to your assertion, and there is no doubt in my mind that ratings management occurs (debatable to what extent).

However, since the USTA does not publish dynamic ratings, it’s not possible for players to know exactly how close they are to the bump threshold. With ratings sites like TR and TLS, players can have a good idea, so your point stands.

As a captain, the best players to have are those that are continuing to improve rapidly, yet were just below the cutoff for the bump threshold. I have a buddy that was a 3.0S and got on a strong men’s team. He killed it all year, even going 5-1 at 3.0 Nationals. TR had him projected to bump to 3.5, but when ratings came out, he had a 3.0C by his name. He was shocked and initially distraught, but tried to make the most of his extra year at 3.0 (it ended up not working out great; his new 3.0 captain mismanaged the roster and squandered a chance to take a loaded team to Nationals...didn’t even win their local 3.0 league!). I think what kept him 3.0 was that his primary partner had a rating of like 3.22, so it was difficult for my buddy to show much improvement in his rating.
 
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leech

Semi-Pro
Anyone at the very top of their level manipulates their rating to stay right there. It’s not a coincidence that the same guys are rated 3.98 every single year. If a player is not trying to do this, there will be much more variability. If a guy finishes 3.98 on TLS every year for 5 straight years, that’s a 4.5 player who is sandbagging. And it’s those players that are top 10% of level.
Also, it’s not always possible for a person who is crushing at their level to get bumped up. Bc in many leagues around here, there are a lot of players who play up. It’s tough to increase your rating playing opponents who are below level. I think, in addition to crushing at level, you need to either (1) win during postseason, or (2) play up a level and hold your own, to ensure a bump up.
 

esgee48

G.O.A.T.
There's a team I know of that bounces back and forth between 4.5 and 5.0. The team, because the players are all fairly even. At 4.5, they can kill most 4.5's in singles. Then they mainly ease thru the doubles. They get bumped. They mainly lose the singles to a true 5.0+ and may get one of the doubles lines. Next year or the year after, they are back as a team at 4.5. Good bunch of guys/players. I don't know if bump downs help them that much.
 

Max G.

Legend
I mean, if you're looking for "nationals-winning" players, you're kind of by definition looking for mis-rated players. Could be mis-rated because of deliberate cheating (throwing games or stuff like that), or looking for mistakes in the rating system - players who got bumped down when they shouldn't have (played a bad match because of a temporary injury, got brought down by a partner that was playing below-level) or players who didn't get bumped up when they should have (same deal - had a few matches not representative of their level, improving too fast for the algorithm to keep up, or aren't good at keeping their focus when they're far ahead).
 

OnTheLine

Hall of Fame
From my perspective at the lower end of the ratings ladder and the female side of it all ...
3.5s bumped down to 3.0 are middling 3.0s ... usually it is age or fitness that got them bumped down not skill ... they can easily be out "athleted" at 3.0
4.0s bumped down to 3.5 are higher 3.5s and again usually an age or fitness issue which is still their weakness ... but more often see higher skill and/or consistency than most at the lower level

At the levels I am familiar with those at a C level that are moving up in general (e.g. a 3.5 that had been a 3.0 and still rising) are stronger than those that are moving down (now a 3.5C had been a 4.0) ... whether that is age, fitness, apathy, drive .... could be a number of factors

In terms of building a winning team ... I have no idea ... my team is the land of misfit toys ... bunch of try-hard women who are a joy to be around and seem to live on 2nd serves and 3rd set tiebreakers. I do have a recent 4.0 bump down who just joined us. Good, but not much better than anyone else.
 

Ft.S

Semi-Pro
An earlier assertion of yours, based on fewer bump downs in our region then expected, was that the threshold must be lower than we expect. If we assume threshold is 3.40 instead of 3.49 to get bump down from 4.0 to 3.5, then players who get bump down won’t be top players at 3.5 destined for National-level teams. So, I think your observations are inline with the previous discussion.
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
I feel uniquely qualified to speak to this, having been bumped from 4.0 to 3.5 for the 2017 playing year.

My own experience was that I dominated 3.5 in my move-down year. I won a fair number of matches at -1 and -2, often with pretty weak partners and/or with weak opponents. I went 2-1 at Districts. But I noticed a couple of things that made me not as dominant as I expected (meaning, I had to work harder than I expected to win matches).

First, I noticed there was an adjustment to the play at 3.5. I'm sorry, but 3.5s play differently than 4.0s. They position differently, for one thing, and that's an adjustment right there. I would see some serious alley camping, many failures to switch when I poached. That affects what I have to do, and of course those sorts of errors will cost you some games.

Second, my partners often did not have the skill to execute tactics that I could see were the appropriate response to what our opponents were doing. Most notably, I am finding that the only time my 3.5 partners and I are two-up is if I come to net. They do not come in when they should. And if I come in, sometimes my partners lack the volley skills to win points up there (I even hear things like "FH takes the middle" -- yeesh). So the two-up net skills that were so important at 4.0 have no value at 3.5. And I spent a lot of time learning those positioning and shot execution skills!

Third, I felt like doubles went from being a game of doubles to a game of keep-away because I was often the strongest player on my court. That certainly wasn't happening at 4.0, so I had to learn to cover more court than before. Also, I was joining a new team and had not established partnerships with any of the 3.5 players, and that will also cost you some games as you work out how to play with someone brand new.


But the fourth reason is the most important reason: I no longer care if I go to nationals at 3.5, for too many reasons to list here. I do not want to practice as much as it would take to regain my 4.0 skills and also develop the skills I need to support a 3.5 partner.

And that is what separates me from a 3.5 who has never been 4.0 and wants to be a 4.0. She is ambitious, I am not. She will practice and play up and work on new skills, where I do not. So of course she would be a better choice for a nationals-bound team.

Heck, if you put me on your nationals-bound team, I would undoubtedly win you a lot of matches at the local league level and at districts. But I wouldn't win you a lot of matches at sectionals or nationals -- 'cause I most likely would refuse to make the trip.
 

J_R_B

Hall of Fame
The answer to this is it depends. There have been guys bumped down that I immediately knew would be the top players in the league and others that, like you said, are solid but not the final difference makers (most of these guys, I scratched my head at the bump up, too...). I definitely look for all of them, though, because, at worst, they're going to be solid depth players.
 

leech

Semi-Pro
The answer to this is it depends. There have been guys bumped down that I immediately knew would be the top players in the league and others that, like you said, are solid but not the final difference makers (most of these guys, I scratched my head at the bump up, too...). I definitely look for all of them, though, because, at worst, they're going to be solid depth players.
True, at worst they'll be solid contributors, and worth picking up (if their ego doesn't get in the way). This season, after bumping up to 4.0, I've just been mentally expecting a 4.5-level opponent when facing players who either appealed down to 4.0 or were bumped down, but when we actually played the match, I was not blown away by them (small sample size of three matches, but still). The one match where I WAS blown off the court was versus a guy that is perennially in the 3.95-range at year end; I was not competitive at all in that match.
 

leech

Semi-Pro
I feel uniquely qualified to speak to this, having been bumped from 4.0 to 3.5 for the 2017 playing year.
Excellent points! I think only four of my ladies have been to 3.5 Nationals, so they are all pretty excited about our prospects, and hopefully are willing to set aside egos and play whatever role is asked of them.
 

leech

Semi-Pro
I mean, if you're looking for "nationals-winning" players, you're kind of by definition looking for mis-rated players. Could be mis-rated because of deliberate cheating (throwing games or stuff like that), or looking for mistakes in the rating system - players who got bumped down when they shouldn't have (played a bad match because of a temporary injury, got brought down by a partner that was playing below-level) or players who didn't get bumped up when they should have (same deal - had a few matches not representative of their level, improving too fast for the algorithm to keep up, or aren't good at keeping their focus when they're far ahead).
I am talking about teams vying for Nationals, which is a lot different from a team with a legit shot at winning Nationals. I've seen plenty of Nationals-bound teams from my Section filled with players that are at level (where the vast majority of players stayed at level the following year).

Definitely helps to find players who are mis-rated; agreed. Just saying that players who are on the rise but fell just shy of getting bumped up are more valuable than players who have matured or are on the decline and just barely fell below the bump-down threshold. This makes perfect sense to me now, but I had somehow ascribed too much value on bump-down (or appeal-down) players.
 

Moveforwardalways

Hall of Fame
I agree there is validity to your assertion, and there is no doubt in my mind that ratings management occurs (debatable to what extent).

However, since the USTA does not publish dynamic ratings, it’s not possible for players to know exactly how close they are to the bump threshold. With ratings sites like TR and TLS, players can have a good idea, so your point stands.

As a captain, the best players to have are those that are continuing to improve rapidly, yet were just below the cutoff for the bump threshold. I have a buddy that was a 3.0S and got on a strong men’s team. He killed it all year, even going 5-1 at 3.0 Nationals. TR had him projected to bump to 3.5, but when ratings came out, he had a 3.0C by his name. He was shocked and initially distraught, but tried to make the most of his extra year at 3.0 (it ended up not working out great; his new 3.0 captain mismanaged the roster and squandered a chance to take a loaded team to Nationals...didn’t even win their local 3.0 league!). I think what kept him 3.0 was that his primary partner had a rating of like 3.22, so it was difficult for my buddy to show much improvement in his rating.
While you can’t manipulate USTA dynamic ratings, since they are not published, you can manipulate TLS and TR ratings. And if you land your TLS/TR rating in the 3.9X range, you will definitely still be within the appeal-down range if you do accidentally get bumped. Some guys work very hard to get and keep a 3.9X rating, since it makes you the most in demand of any USTA player. When people see that rating, you are in high demand for 4.0 regular league, 7.0 mixed, 8.0 mixed, 9.0 mixed, 7.5 combo, 8.5 combo, and you can even play up at 4.5. Basically, your phone is ringing off the hook as one of the most valuable assets in USTA league play. This is where some of the best players sit and stay (outside of obvious teaching pros and ex-D1 types, etc). As you noted in your experience above, the guys who will blow you off the court sit at 3.98 year after year consistently, not the bump downs.
 

FuzzyYellowBalls

Professional
Leech, this is a an old story I've told in another thread, but the bump downs in Dallas include 4.5 and top level players that had to lose every match on purpose for two seasons at 4.5 to get bumped down to 4.0. They are/were pretty good players, hence it took about 16 losses in a row to get bumped down, they are pretty damn good at 4.0.
 

Moveforwardalways

Hall of Fame
Leech, this is a an old story I've told in another thread, but the bump downs in Dallas include 4.5 and top level players that had to lose every match on purpose for two seasons at 4.5 to get bumped down to 4.0. They are/were pretty good players, hence it took about 16 losses in a row to get bumped down, they are pretty damn good at 4.0.
Classic move. It’s way more fun as a good 4.0 going to state all the time than playing routine competitive 4.5 matches locally.
 

FuzzyYellowBalls

Professional
Is that your real opinion or sarcasm? I get frustrated sometimes playing 4.0, you can run into some really mediocre players and that drains my soul like nothing else, creates an attitude problem in me.
 

tomato123

Professional
Leech, this is a an old story I've told in another thread, but the bump downs in Dallas include 4.5 and top level players that had to lose every match on purpose for two seasons at 4.5 to get bumped down to 4.0. They are/were pretty good players, hence it took about 16 losses in a row to get bumped down, they are pretty damn good at 4.0.
I have an acquaintance who lives in the Austin area who shared something similar but I’m not sure if there was any exaggeration to the story or if it was all true...

But in a nutshell, he said he knew a couple guys that ran their “main” 4.0 team and also managed a 4.5 team that was essentially a “math drop” team where if you got bumped up from the 4.0 team to 4.5 they’d recruit you to that 4.5 team to just dump matches on purpose to get you back down to 4.0.

Not sure if that actually works in practice, so I did take it with a grain of salt.
 

FuzzyYellowBalls

Professional
Oh, it worked, literally a group of 15 or so went winless for 2 seasons, some of them 3 seasons, then once down to 4.0 they won every match, lol, it was painfully obvious what was going on. I still don't understand spending that much time losing though, seems tedious.
 

time_fly

Hall of Fame
Recently I had a pair of 4.0 bump-downs play a pair of 3.0 self-rates from last fall that had already been bumped up to 3.5. The bumped-down guys lost 6-2, 6-2. So bump downs are usually still decent but I’d take self-rated players every time.
 
I’ve come to the realization that players bumped down from a higher level are not the answer for teams that are trying to get to Nationals. Based on anecdotal evidence from results this season among dropdowns to 4.0 and 3.5, I haven’t found them to be top tier players at the level they dropped to. Sure, they’re solid, but not in the top 10% at their level, which I think you’d need if you are captaining a team expecting to go to Nationals.

It seems the top players at a given level are good enough to be middle of the pack at the next level the following year. And bc middle of the pack players do not get bumped down, I guess it makes sense that players who have bumped down will not be among the best players at the lower level. If we accept that as being true, then captains who are aspiring to take a team to Nationals need not seek out a team full of bump-down players (at least, they should not expect to get to Nationals if the majority of their top players are bump downs). Exception for those who were bumped down due to ratings anomalies.

Do you agree?
hmmm...nope. :rolleyes: it takes a certain type of A players for that run.
 

J_R_B

Hall of Fame
hmmm...nope. :rolleyes: it takes a certain type of A players for that run.
Yeah, there's obviously a difference between "organic" bump-downs (i.e. players near the boundary who just play and naturally get bumped up and down because they are right at the edge between two levels) and bump-downs from purposely throwing matches at the higher level to get down. One type, which is what OP was referring to, is going to be a solid contributor but really no better than a person at the top of the lower level. The other who just flat cheated the system, is obviously going to be too good for the level. That was the whole point of their nonsense, right?
 

ShaunS

Semi-Pro
Anyone at the very top of their level manipulates their rating to stay right there. It’s not a coincidence that the same guys are rated 3.98 every single year.
:rolleyes:

And if you land your TLS/TR rating in the 3.9X range, you will definitely still be within the appeal-down range if you do accidentally get bumped.
This is false. Just this year I saw a guy rated below 3.9x get bumped up, and he wasn't able to appeal.

Also, it’s not always possible for a person who is crushing at their level to get bumped up.
Agreed. When you're at the top of your rating level, and you only play people below you it can be really hard. Here are some examples from last year for me.

Against good competition:
3.90 doubles versus 3.81 doubles - won the match 6-7, 6-4, 1-0 = rating dropped

Against weak competition:
3.89 doubles versus 3.18 doubles - won the match 6-1, 6-0 = rating dropped

I'm using the TR numbers for what's posted here, but verifying that the rating dropped from schmke's report. I was amazed to see how little credit I got for winning some extremely difficult matches, and the punishment for not blanking somebody 0 and 0.

hmmm...nope. :rolleyes: it takes a certain type of A players for that run.
One overlooked attribute is a player who's actively trying to improve their game. If you're coming out and playing one league match a week then there's going to be very little change. If that same player is on a team that wants to make a run, and they get serious about improving you could have a significant jump in your game by the time nationals rolls around.
 
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