I came across a question regarding what stats to share with the team vs. what to share with individuals.

Do you share everyone’s individual stats with the whole team? Or just team stats with the team and individual stats with that individual?

The coach asking the question was doing so in the context of high school volleyball. For those not familiar, high school stats are not reported publicly in the way we see at the college level, for example. Heck, sometimes no one takes them at all!

I bring this up because one might ask, “If they’re public, doesn’t everyone see them anyway?” Personally, I would share all stats – team and individual – with everyone who wants to see them. I’m not saying you need to make a big deal of it. Just post them somewhere everyone can see if they so choose. Some will be very eager. Others have no interest. Some will only look at their numbers, while others will look at things more broadly.

That said, sharing stats and talking about them are two different things. It’s the latter that I think need some consideration.

There are three primary reasons for taking stats.

  • Tracking progress over time
  • To make comparisons
  • Identifying areas of strength and/or weakness

The sort of conversation you have with a player determines which way you talk about stats. If it’s an individual level thing where you just focus on that player, then progress tracking and strength/weakness identification are likely the main focal areas. There might be a bit of comparison, but probably not one that is intra-squad. By that I mean, you might say something like “First team All-Conference hitters in your position generally have a hitting efficiency of at least .200.” You probably wouldn’t, however, talk about how Jane’s serve receive stats compare to Sue’s.

Where the intra-squad comparisons do often come in to the conversation is when playing time is the theme. And this is where things can get tricky.

What must be clear from the start is the degree to which stats influence playing time decisions. If the rule is that the libero with the best reception rating is the starter, then the stats determine playing time. If you don’t go that far, but do consider stats among other factors in the decision-making process, then they influence, but do not dictate, playing time. Or maybe you don’t consider them at all.

It is important that everyone knows how stats are used. And just as important, you must be consistent. You don’t want to say the libero with the best reception rating starts, then start someone else. That’s a quick way to create problems.

By the way, it’s generally a better approach to say stats influence but don’t necessarily determine playing time. Sometimes there are reasons not to play the player with the better numbers, and you don’t want to paint yourself into a corner.

I will also note that you should be careful how you talk about player comparisons generally, as they can get you into trouble.

You may find the Actually measuring improvement in practice post useful in this context as well.

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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.

Please share your own ideas and opinions.