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The Concept of Back-Testing

The Concept of Back-Testing

Few things can be more frustrating for handicappers than the back-testing process, in which various situational and statistical handicapping methods are checked for previous results. (Both methods are described in detail here.

Depending on the sport involved, the back-tracking process takes on a markedly different approach. A sport such as baseball may only require a decent two- or three-month test, in which 55 to 80 games per team can be looked at, while you pretty much have to give yourself several years worth of results when looking at football or college basketball.

There is no real set amount of results to look at, although you do have to use a bit of common sense and all systems, either situational or statistical, should pass the sense test. Taking a team after it commits three more turnovers than the opposition the following week makes a bit of sense on the assumption that the team is unlikely to repeat that statistic, as well as it likely led to a bit of a misleading final score the previous week. Taking a team that has the nicest-looking uniform does not, although there will be stretches of time where that is a profitable situation.

It's a time-staking process --and one that typically ends up in frustration-- but there are several tools that will help you out.

Stat Attack Sports software

When it comes to situational handicapping, nothing works better than the Stat Attack line of software. You simply plug in the parameters that you want to search for and Stat Attack does the rest for you. If you want to see how teams have done after being out-gained by 150 yards, or more, Stat Attack can quickly let you see the answer.

You can find plenty of great situational systems for both sides and totals using the Stat Attack line of software.

You can visit their site at

Mr. NFL and Mr. CFB

Mr. NFL and Mr. CFB are a pair of nifty software programs developed by Richard Tolliver. The programs will give you a predicted score for each game, and you have the ability to adjust the value of the variables that are considered by the program.

Those back-testing statistical methods will love the program, as you can go back to the previous year and enter the week number and see the stats for teams at that point in time. No more manually adding up statistics each week for each team, which is a tremendous time-saver for those doing serious statistical research.

I'll admit to just having dabbled with the Mr. NFL program briefly and don't have the best understanding of how everything works, but have been able to do some research using the previous week feature.


SDQL, or Sports Database Query Language, is a popular web-based site that a number of handicappers use. As its name implies, it is a query language that allows you to input variables into a query field and then gives the results.

There are both pros and cons to SDQL, as it does take time to learn and can be frustrating for newer users. There is plenty of help available, including a "Masters" course that you can sign-up for, if you so desire.


Most often, you'll find out that you think is a promising system isn't and I know that from first-hand experience quite well. I've spent hours looking for and testing different things and far more often that not, end up empty-handed. But there are those occasions where you stumble onto something that works quite well and that makes everything worthwhile.

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