I came across the following in a coaching group. The author is wondering when a coach needs to adjust their base serving philosophy.

My coaching philosophy is to serve aggressive all the time because giving the other team free balls or easy serves isn’t going to help us at all.

When do I abandon that philosophy? This is my first year at the school and we just aren’t serving well… 683 serves on the year 87 aces and 105 errors and only scored 339 points on our serves…

Those numbers would be much worse if we take out 2 of the easy matches we had one game we had 22 aces and 0 errors…

My setters I usually want to be consistent and in because I run a 6-2 and when they serve we have 3 hitters but they are a combined 175 attempts 18 aces 32 errors only 78 points on their serves… I already adjusted my line up so my setters serve 3rd and 6th in my serving order but with our major negative serving do I abandon my serving philosophy or do I hold true and adjust a little?

What’s the benchmark?

Let look at all the figures presented.

This coach tells us the team so far is on an 12.7% ace percentage and 1.2 Error-to-Ace ratio. They scored just shy of 50% of the time when they served. I can tell you that at a lot of levels, those are quite good numbers.

The problem for us is we don’t have a basis for comparison. The author doesn’t offer up any. Are they bad for the level of high school competition this team plays? Maybe they are totally fine and this coach is worried about nothing. There was actually some indication in the comments to the post that this is, indeed, the case. Certainly, there doesn’t seem to be a case for calling this anything like “our major negative serving”

What’s happening on the non-ace/non-errors?

Let’s assume for the moment that 50% point scoring on serve is low. This alone doesn’t really tell us that serving is a problem. How well are the other teams passing the non-ace/non-error serves? If they are passing them perfectly most of the time, then we probably have an issues – and our definitions of what comprise aggressive serving might have to change.

If, however, we’re consistently putting the other team out-of-system, then we have to look elsewhere. Maybe our block and/or defense isn’t getting the job done. Or we could be failing in transition offense.

The point is, the analysis above is far short of what we need to draw much in the way of usable conclusions.

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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.

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