I once had a conversation with a former men’s club teammate who went on to become an NCAA Division I head coach. His name is Steve. We talked about what it takes to consistently win sets, and thus matches. It revolved around the idea of points scored vs. points given away.

Steve had done some off-season research reviewing a season’s worth of conference matches. He found that teams scoring 18-19 points of their own through kills, blocks, and aces frequently won. The rest of the points from there to 25 would come from opponent errors. That’s hits into the net or out of bounds, ball-handling errors, missed serves, etc.

Now, this was a very specific set of figures related to a certain level of play. These figures don’t apply to everyone. For example, at lower levels one would expect teams to commit more errors. That means it takes fewer positive points to win your average set. It is worth doing some research to figure out what the plus points/minus points ratio is like at your level for winning vs. losing teams (this research I did is related).

The reason it’s worth having this kind of information is it lets you figure out what sorts of things you need to prioritize in your training and/or match preparation. If, for example, you aren’t getting enough plus points then you’re probably going to have to work on strengthening your offense somehow. That’s because kills are the biggest factor there. If scoring plus points isn’t an issue, then the focus might need to be on avoiding the minus points. That means reducing errors. You should also look at keeping the other team from generating plus points. This is done through better defense, or perhaps more aggressive serving.

These are the sorts of things which should go into the on-going assessment process for competitive teams. I always look at them for the teams I coach.

6 Steps to Better Practices - Free Guide

Join my mailing list today and get this free guide to making your practices the best, along with loads more coaching tips and information.

No spam ever. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

John Forman
John Forman

John is currently the Men's & Women's Head Volleyball Coach at Medaille College, as well as Global Director for Volleyball 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.

    2 replies to "Maximize plus points, minimize minus ones"

    • Danny

      Hi, do you have a spread sheet or document made for recording your +\- points?

      Cheers
      Dan

      • John Forman

        Hi Dan – I don’t have one specifically at this particular point. That said, in the past I’ve done something as simple as just writing down how each point was scored in a column on a piece of paper. That allows for some additional notation (like who was responsible, what type of play it was, etc.). One could also use a spreadsheet type layout where the different types of point-scoring plays were columns (I may attach a sample later when I get a chance), Of course these days there are many stat apps out there which can be used. I’ve recently started looking at some of them and will share my thoughts in future posts.

Please share your own ideas and opinions.