A post on the JVA website offers up a simple way for coaches to track things during a match. Basically, you track the things that earn your team points and those that cost them. Think of it as a manual version of what you can do with an app like SoloStats (at its most basic, you can use it to record the final outcome of a rally).

I think any time you can use objective information in your coaching it’s a good idea. When you lack real-time statistical support, which many coaches do, a system like the one described in the article is a useful thing to do. Like me, you might struggle to take stats when you coach. If you can train yourself to do it, though, it can pay off.

That said, keep a couple things in mind.

Limitations

Remember that end-of-rally stats like the ones talked about in the article miss a lot. Basically, they miss everything that leads up to the final action. As such, they don’t capture causality, only outcomes. It’s like what I talked about in my disease vs. symptoms post.

While you might observe something noteworthy in the data, you need to know what’s underlying it. That’s the thing you have to address, after all.

Analysis problems

One of the selling points for the article is that the outlined method can help with in-game adjustments. As soon as I read that, warning lights began flashing in my head. Why? Because it’s really easy to jump to inappropriate conclusions.

You need a fair amount of data to start drawing conclusions. Half a set likely isn’t enough, unless there is a clear cause you can recognize (which probably won’t actually show up in the stats). That’s something I talk about here. At the same time, you also need to be conscious of how mean reversion may factor into things.

What matters?

Will this method of taking stats help you? It could. Depends on what you need, though. At the end of the day, you want to collect data on the things that are important. That means you should give some thought to both what you might need to help with your in-match decision-making and what will assist with your work on team and/or player development.

One final thought

This isn’t really the focus of the article, but the idea of error control comes up a couple of times. We have to be careful with this thought process, and even more so in our communication with the players.

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John Forman
John Forman

John is currently the Volleyball Director for Nation Academy (formerly Charleston Academy). His previous experience includes the college and university level in the US and UK, professional coaching in Sweden, and both coaching and club management at the Juniors level. Learn more on his bio page.

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