Is a block a hitting error?

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, I think the answer is “No.”

I say that based on my experience as a coach in Sweden, and also from statistics in European leagues. The common practice there is to break out actual hitting errors from blocked balls. This might just be a function of DataVolley reporting, though.

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)/total attempts ]. There is value in more granular reporting, though.

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John Forman
About the Author: John Forman
John most recently coached for an NCAA Division II women's team. That followed 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.

2 comments

  1. 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 John Forman says:

      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.

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