There’s a post on the AVCA blog on the subject of stats to track in matches vs. practice. I think it brings up useful points, though also talks about some things where caution is required.

The good

One of the things the post author talks about is using stats as an objective measure to compare to your “eye test”. There are definite limits to our perspective of things. This is something we need to be conscious of, and stats can help us offset that.

Another thing I like from the post is how the author talks about knowing what stats actually matter and what are pointless to collect. He uses the example of only having two available middles, so not worrying about stats that revolve around playing time decisions in that position.

I also liked that he talks about using stats to help players anticipate the opposition.

The not so good

There are a couple of things I wish the post talked about. The first has to do with using stats during matches. One of the problems there is the limited amount of data available to use in decision-making. I talked about this previously. In most matches you probably need at least two sets of data to even think about drawing conclusions. And reversion to the mean is always something to have in mind.

The other thing is practice stats. They can certainly be very useful in helping to make line-up and playing time decisions. I would strongly advise you to think about the context in which you collect those stats.

For example, while it’s easy to get a high volume of passing stats in a serve & pass drill, they might not be very useful. I say that because server motivation and distribution is a factor. If a passer only faces one or two servers, then that’s probably not enough to be a good representation. Also, if the drill inclines servers to either serve easier (let’s get through the drill quickly) or harder (errors don’t matter, so let’s rip!) than normal then again the reps probably aren’t worth much.

Overall

I think overall the blog post does a good job of at least introducing the idea of narrowing your stat-taking focus. More isn’t necessarily better. A lot of coaches like the competitive cauldron concept, but as Mike Hebert talks about in Thinking Volleyball, that level of stat-taking can be very labor-intensive. It might not provide value equivalent to the effort. Even if you aren’t going the cauldron route, there is still value in thinking about what number really matter.

Maybe we just need to keep track of DAP. 🙂

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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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