How to Memorize Sports Stats

by thememorypage

1.4 • Sports & Short-Term Information

In March 1998, someone sent me an Email message asking for suggestions on how to memorize sports statistics — a difficult challenge because, unlike the other examples given in these web pages, the information is changing rapidly instead of permanent forever (or for a long period of time).

Here’s a small quote from his message:

“Everything is going fine with what I am doing but I am also interested >in sports and can not figure how to use the systems youve disclosed……and because this is March (MarchMadness) I at the same time have to remember 64 basketball teams all of whom are >being eliminated on a nightly basis till there is one…I believe you can see my confusion…”


And my response:

“Hmm, that’s a very interesting problem! Your situation really is different than the ones given in my memory documents so far because the information you are trying to memorize is constantly changing. And yes, you would get confused if you associated the Giants with 3-13 one week, then 4-13 the next, then 4-15 the next, etc.”

I know of one good technique for memorizing temporary information. I’m going to use the 64 basketball teams example first because that is easier. Now I’m not sure exactly what you are trying to memorize, but let’s just say you want to know which teams are still in the competition and which ones have been eliminated. (If you need to memorize more than simply that, perhaps you can think of a way to adapt/extend the system.)

The first step is to associate each of the 64 teams with a peg word (see my “Peg Words” document). This assumes that you don’t already know all 64 teams by heart and can instantly recite all 64 to someone without skipping or duplicating one of the teams — the peg words will allow you to do this by letting you walk through the numbers 1 through 64, then say the team associated with each one. Because the teams probably don’t already have numbers, you can strategically assign numbers however you like. Perhaps you can use 1-32 for an “Eastern” division and 33-64 for a “Western” division. Well, obviously I don’t know much about basketball, but that’s an example. Then when you memorize the 64 teams you’d have the added benefit of knowing which division each team was in. Or you could group them by color, alphabetically, favoritism, etc.

Be sure to memorize your list very well. In order for you to achieve a high degree of success in the next step, you should be able to very quickly name the basketball team given a number from 1 to 64 or vice-versa.

The next step is to “burn” each peg word in your mind each time a team is eliminated. For example, suppose your peg word for 16 is tissue, and suppose today team #16 loses. Then, in your mind, picture the tissue burning. Watch the flames quickly consume the box of Kleenex (or whatever is your best picture), and watch it slowly turn black. This imagination is very important — spend at least half a minute just thinking about it. Try to think of all the details you can: the smell of burnt Kleenex, the black flakes blowing in the wind.

Now you have it! To figure out if a team is still in the contest, just think of that team’s number. Then decide if that number has been “burned” yet or not. You should find it very easy to remember which peg words have been burned and which ones haven’t. To tell someone a complete list of the teams that are still in the contest, start at 1 in your mind and walk your way to 64. Each time you get to a non- burned peg word, say the team for that number. It may take a minute or two to walk through all the teams in your mind, but you can do it!

Next year, it is possible that you might get last year’s burning confused with this year’s. So you can just “drown” each peg word in water instead of burn it. The next year you can freeze, then you can smash them, etc. Eventually you will forget the burnings and you can go back to that again!


Last Sunday San Francisco Giants were 3win13loss in the CactusLeague(pre-season spring training)..easy enough to remember (my giant ma being mad)but then Monday they were 4win13loss..besides the  shock of them winning a game I also have to “rememorize”their stats… hopefully remembering both.

Perhaps you can use your list of 100 peg words again. Each time a game is lost, have a peg word smashed. When a game is won, have a peg word, which is probably already smashed, eaten by some furry animal. (This scheme assumes the Giants will lose more games than they win!!)


let’s say the Giants are 3-13. Then peg words 1 through 13 are all smashed, and peg words 1, 2 and 3 are also eaten. Now they win a game, so it’s time to eat number 4. My peg word is rye. I remember it already being smashed, so it’s as flat as a pancake. The furry animal comes along, scrapes it off the ground with his claw and slowly eats it up. Suppose they lose their next game — time to smash 14. My peg word is tire. A 2,000 lb. weight crashes to the ground on top of a tire. A tire is pretty tough, so it actually doesn’t work this time. So we repeat this weight-smashing three times, and finally the tire flattens into some kind of a useless blob.

To recall the team’s record, you don’t have to start at 1 and go through the whole list. Just start at the last thing you remember was eaten or burned. Perhaps you remember for sure that you smashed a small town (12). You can start there. Was a dime (13) smashed? Yes, you remember putting it on a train track and having a train run over it. Was a tire (14) smashed? Yes, it was tough, but we managed to do it. Was a doll (15) smashed? No, it’s still intact. So the Giants are something-and-14. Now just scan the eaten items to find their number of wins.

The reason this system works so well is because we aren’t constantly changing what we memorize… we’re adding new things. The tire was already there, but then we smashed it. We don’t have to un-smash it later… it’s smashed permanently. When the Giants lose again, we will smash something new. So even though the Giants’ record constantly changes, their record is cleverly translated into a different system in which only new things (or aspects) are added.

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