A reader asked me the following question about hitting and blocking statistics.

Is a won block counted as a hitting error for the corresponding hitter?

In U.S volleyball the answer to that question is usually “Yes.” Elsewhere in the world, the answer is more often “No.” The common practice internationally is to break out actual hitting errors from blocked balls.

Which is the right way? That is up to the statistics user.

From the perspective of reporting, the trend is to take a positive view. By that I mean they want to report players earning points rather than players giving up points. In that mindset a block is a positive thing for the defensive player. It is a negative for the hitter.

As coaches, however, we must decide which way to count them. It is about which approach provides the best information for us in the context of our own teams. There is definitely value in splitting errors and blocked balls, which standard NCAA box score reporting does not do.

Personally, I like including blocked balls for hitting efficiency [ (kills-errors-blocks)/total attempts ], which is the standard approach. There is value in more granular reporting, though. Understanding error rates exclusive of blocked balls can be quite useful.


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John Forman
John Forman

John is currently the Talent Strategy Manager (oversees the national teams) and Indoor Performance Director for Volleyball England, as well as Global Director for Volleyball for Nation Academy. His volleyball coaching experience includes all three NCAA divisions, plus Junior College, in the US; university and club teams in the UK; professional coaching in Sweden; and both coaching and club management at the Juniors level. He's also been a visiting coach at national team, professional club, and juniors programs in several countries. Learn more on his bio page.

    2 replies to "Is a block a hitting error?"

    • Kraig O'Rourke

      Usually, I see blocks counted as hitting errors, but as a coach, I simply count them as hitting attempts to encourage my players to challenge the block while hitting, as opposed to tipping or shipping free balls. Assuming that my team and I are the consumers of the stats (at least that’s who I care about,) this method tells me what I want to know, which is how many chances to attack did the hitter get, and how successful were they on those attempts. I also count tipped balls as kills, which I’ve seen some statisticians ignore altogether. I think the right answer is to determine who the audience for the stats is and what you’re trying to gleen from the raw data.

      • John Forman

        Kraig – I think your last statement is exactly the way to go. You track what you want to evaluate, the way you want to evaluate it.

        As for not counting tips as kills, the guidelines are very clear. A kill is a kill regardless of how it’s played over – even if it comes from a free ball. As coaches we probably don’t care too much to track free ball kills, but they still count in the official stats.

Please share your own ideas and opinions.