Making starting rotation decisions

A thread in VolleyTalk brought up the question of determining the starting rotation for your volleyball team. Joe Trinsey, then a member of the USA Women’s National team staff, motivated folks with a blog post. He was also one of the presenters at the HP Coaches Clinic I attended in February 2015. Joe’s post is very technical and focuses on serving and hitting percentage. Some folks on VT brought up match-ups, which I also mentioned might be considerations in this lineup selection post.

Starting rotation decision-making comes up in some of the Volleyball Coaching Wizards interviews. Generally speaking, however, the feeling has been mainly against trying to do all that much matching up. Joe makes the point in his post that the other team could change things up and foul up the whole plan. That’s above and beyond just looking at what the numbers say. Wizard Paulo Cunha, though, I think expressed things in the most straightforward fashion. He basically said it’s your team’s structure of play which is by far the biggest factor in its performance.

Importantly, match-ups don’t always matter nearly as much as we might think just going on intuition. A big example of this is trying to put a strong hitter against a smaller blocker. It came up in one of the HP clinic presentations (maybe Joe’s). The suggestion was hitters don’t really change much in terms of how they attack when facing a smaller blocker.  Mark Lebedew made a similar observation at the recent FIVB seminar I attended based on his analysis of German professional league play.

So before you start spinning the dial on your rotations, make sure you understand the realities underlying your decision-making process. Don’t just go based on what should theoretically be the case.

 

John Forman
About the Author: John Forman
John currently coaches for an NCAA Division II women's team. This follows a stint as head coach for a women's professional team in Sweden. Prior to that he was the head coach for the University of Exeter Volleyball Club BUCS teams (roughly the UK version of the NCAA) while working toward a PhD. He previously coached in Division I of NCAA Women's Volleyball in the US, with additional experience at the Juniors club level, both coaching and managing, among numerous other volleyball adventures. Learn more on his bio page.

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