Friday, February 18, 2011

Record Keeping

Sooner or later the statistics of agility are going to become too much to keep filed away in your brain...Here are some thoughts and suggestions on keeping track of legs, titles, points and judges.

In AKC land, titles (NA, NAJ, OA, OAJ, etc) are earned by obtaining three qualifying scores from two different judges. It's thus important to know under whom you've qualified for each leg..The AKC site (specifically the "Points and Awards" tool) keeps track of legs and number of different judges - but doesn't tell you WHO those judges were - or what you thought of those judges and their courses - I only have two judges that I won't enter under (anymore) - but I do like going back through and looking at data (SCT, YPS and course maps) from previous trials.

Individual results are available for qualifying scores on the AKC event page (several weeks after the trial is over), but no information is retained for non-qualifying scores - which makes calculations for entire trial weekends difficult.

Some trial secretaries publish results on their website - typically at the end of the trial day - and usually in PDF format. I  like to go through the weekly score posts and see how folks did over the weekend - yes, a little bit of agility stalking is good for the soul.

Once you get into the excellent B classes you'll start earning MACH (or PACH points**) for every full second under course time on qualifying runs. It starts out pretty easy then it becomes relatively hard to keep a running point tally in your head. Let's (hypothetically speaking) consider the possibility that you are trialing more than one dog or one dog in more than one venue - it quickly becomes an even harder task to keep track of legs, judges and points.

So how can we make record keeping easier? I confess - until I finished Teller's MXJ I really didn't keep a good tally of points or legs. I can keep a pretty good running tally in my head - and actual numbers weren't all that important at that point...However, as time went on - it was clear that even my memory was going to fail me on minute things like points.

Record Keeping Books
Lots of variation on this theme - some folks use a plain old composition notebook - one for each dog or venue - recording dates, results, venue and judges. Noting hotel, restaurant information, manually calculating yards per second and MACH points. There are also pre-made dedicated agility record books - I've looked at the version from clean run and it looks very comprehensive - space for all of the information I'd want to keep track of....BUT You've got to remember to bring the book with you to trials - and you must remember to keep it up to date - AND if you lose the book (without a backup) you've lost all of your data.

This isn't my method of choice, but if you are disciplined enough to come home from a trial, power up your laptop and enter data into a spreadsheet - this is as good as any other record keeping method IF the file is backed up. Hours of diligent data entry will be meaningless if it's lost on a dead hard drive.

There's an App for that.
If you have an ipad, iphone or ipod touch - there are some apps for that! I've been using iLog from the folks at AgilityVision. I think there's some advantage to this - for one - I almost always have my iPhone with me at trials. I can tale a picture of the course map, add it to the class record, it does all the math for me (YPS, MACH points, QQ's, etc). I can enter a complete record in under a minute. iPhone and iPad apps are backed up via iTunes. I started record keeping back in October (roughly 15 months of data to enter) and honestly I only went back to enter historical Ex B Q's and points - I did not reconstruct either dog's entire career through Excellent. I had some trouble getting the numbers to match (AKC vs iLog) - I ended up having to tweak my iLog data to match what AKC listed for points. I doubt that would have happened had I entered data in as legs and points were earned.

Keep your records up to date  - know where you stand in your agility path and enjoy the ride!

**I asked an AKC field rep about PACH points - The PACH (Preferred Agility Championship) becomes an official title on January 1st, 2013 - HOWEVER, points are already being recorded for every preferred Excellent B Q - so NOW counts!!!.

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