For the sake of making solid objective assessments of your team and players, and to see how they progress over time, it is worth compiling as many volleyball statistics on them as you can during both training and competition. One of the easier stats to keep is that for serving and passing effectiveness.
Let’s start with passing, as it leads into the serving stats I’ll be talking about.
Scoring Serve Receive Passing
The common practice among volleyball coaches is to score passing on a 0 to 3 scale. This is primarily for serve reception, but one could also rate free ball passing and even digging in the same way. The scale looks like this:
3 – Perfect or near perfect pass giving the setter all setting options
2 – Good pass, but the setter has primarily just two options (forward or back)
1 – Poor pass allowing the setter only one option, or forcing a non-setter to set.
0 – Ace or over-pass
Generally speaking, teams want to aim for an average score of 2.0 or better. Squads who are able to do that will usually run an effective offense.
On an individual basis, the best passers will come in around the 2.3-2.4 level on average. Obviously, you probably won’t see that kind of average for lower level players.
I have seen some coaches use modifications on this system. For example, 1 could be an over-pass, shifting the rest of the scale up such that a perfect pass is a 4 rather than a 3. This might be suitable for lower level teams where an over-pass doesn’t translate into points for the opposition as frequently as it does at upper levels. In any case, feel free to adapt the system to suit the needs of your team.
As for serving, we use a 0-5 scale which is largely an inverted version of the passing scale.
5 – Ace
4 – Over-pass
3 – Opposing team passes a 1
2 – Opposing team passes a 2
1 – Opposing team passes a 3
0 – Error
As with passing, the objective here it to average 2 or better. Doing so means the other team cannot run its offense consistently, making your defense and transition game more effective. Again, you can make adjustments to suit your needs.
Stat Both Training and Matches
I strongly recommend you score serving and passing in training games as well as in matches. If you only score during matches then your bench players won’t ever get scored. Part of the reason for keeping volleyball statistics like this is to give your players very specific feedback on where they are currently and where they need to get.
Note, I am not in favor of taking stats in passing drills that do not strongly replicate game conditions. I have a couple of reasons for that. First, the serving is often not very realistic. Sometimes it’s overly aggressive. At other time’s it’s too conservative. Second, drills often don’t have the same cooperative dynamics as game play in terms of passers working out seams and things like that.
Scoring serving and passing also gives you a clear an unambiguous way of ranking players for lineup decisions. You’re less likely to have ruffled feathers when you decide to have Joe hidden in serve receive or Jane serving last in the rotation if the player knows they are not one of the better performers in those skills.
Make Sure It’s Consistent
Since the serve and pass are two sides of the same coin, keeping these serving and passing stats is quite easy. The one requirement, though, is that a consistent metric is used to make scoring judgements. If you don’t have consistent ratings then the averages derived won’t be reliable. It may sound easy to define a 3-pass, but it’s going to vary based on the athleticism of your setter and/or the ability of your middle hitter(s) to stay available for a front quick set. You can be more liberal with your scoring if your setter is quick and your middles mobile, but if you have a more slow-footed setter and/or lumbering middles the range of passes which could reasonably be called a 3 will be narrow.
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