Regression to the mean

Few weeks back , I was in 3 wise monkeys( a pub near Khar, Mumbai), watching Manchester United demolishing Leicester FC in the first half of a match. Manchester won 4-1 against Leicester FC. I absolutely didn’t expect this result. Being a premier league fan for a decade, the result is one of the surprise to me.

Image result for Leicester city


Champions of England, that’s what this Leicester FC team was last season, and within a month of this season commencing, they have lost as many premier league games as they did all season last year. While 47 clubs have competed since the inception of the Premier League in 1992, only six have won the title: Manchester United (13), Chelsea (4), Arsenal (3), Manchester City (2), Blackburn Rovers and Leicester City (1). The current champions are Leicester City, who won the title in 2015–16. Leicester are nowhere closer to what they promised last seasons. Last season Leicester got 11 penalties,  no injuries, used on 18 players and won all key games.

Poster boys for what is often called the ‘ Regression to the Mean‘ theory. Without using much jargon, it means that statistically sports teams tend to behave like coin tosses. If you keep tossing a coin enough time, whichever way it is currently, it will start converging on a 50-50 heads to tails ratio. The longer you toss, the closer you will end up to that ratio, Similarly, if you have had an outstanding season, with a team that on paper looks like average talent, like Leicester did last season, the odds are that this year you will end much closer to the middle of the pack where you belong rather than continue to perform at that stratospheric level.Extreme attributes , over time, converge to the mean. And the more ‘chance’ related performance measure is, the more it will regress to the mean.

In statistics, regression toward (or to) the mean is the phenomenon that if a variable is extreme on its first measurement, it will tend to be closer to the average on its second measurement—and if it is extreme on its second measurement, it will tend to have been closer to the average on its first ( as per wikipedia)

Regression to the mean is a technical way of saying that things tend to even out over time…

a)Another great example is the Rajasthan Royals, their performance in the first year of the IPL with a team not considered close to the best in terms of talent started playing to their abilities, the royals though even stronger on paper the years after, could not maintain that level of performance.

b) Gujarat’s story is business school stuff case study that tells you underdogs, despite all their deficiencies can also win. Gujarat had never won the ranji trophy before. this Jan 17′, they won Ranji finals against Mumbai. Buth that’s what sport is all about. It makes room for miracles.

b)In 1983, the India team managed to upset the mighty west indies in that magical world cup final at lords. A few months later, the west Indians came to India and beat India 3-0 in a six test series, and convincingly won every one of the 5 ODI matches they played against us.

c)Every five years, we in India have these great hopes and think [a new prime minister is] going to solve all of our problems. “Their popularity is lower at the end than at the beginning of their term because it turns out they weren’t Superman or Superwoman.” Instead, they were closer to the mean than their supporters hoped and their critics feared. Isn’t ?


Much of what we experience in life results from a combination of skill and luck.” The trick, of course, is  figuring out how many of our successes( and failures) can be attributed to each. And how we can learn to tell the difference ahead of time.

In most domains of life, skill and luck seem hopelessly entangled. Different levels of skill and varying degrees of good and bad luck are the realities that shape our lives—yet few of us are adept at accurately distinguishing between the two. Imagine what we could accomplish if we were able to tease out these two threads, examine them, and use the resulting knowledge to make better decisions.



  1. Excellent article you have covered the 2 most important things in India(Cricket and politics) and linked it back to your main subject EPL. Excellent choice of words and pretty simple for a layman to understand what you are trying to put forward.

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