One of the sessions I attended at the 2019 AVCA Convention was titled Scouting: Less is More. USA Women’s assistant coach Luka Slabe presented. It started with the following statement.

“Scouting is overrated.”

For some people that might be a borderline blasphemous statement. There are coaches who spend A LOT of time scouting the upcoming opposition. There are also coaches who give their teams highly detailed scouting reports.

Luka argued the case that we might want to give scouting less of a priority.

This all starts with the working premise. Why scout? According to Luka, we scout to find out if we need to change something from our default. If you do a good job creating a defensive strategy to address the most common situations, that means most of the time you won’t need to change anything from match to match. If, however, you don’t have that good base system, every match basically requires a new plan.

What should you look at to see if you need to make adjustments? Luka said there are three areas to evaluate. First is the opponent’s serve reception offense. Next is their out-of-system offense. Finally, you want to look at what they do on the first ball in transition.

And what do you share with the team?

Frankly, not a whole lot. There is definitely an inclination among coaches to share figures and statistics, but players don’t retain that stuff. So leave them out. Generally, keep things concise. Only share with the players really important things, and keep in mind that you’ll probably have to reinforce that stuff in the match anyway.

So what do you do with all the time you’ll save now?

Luka suggested you use it for self-scouting. Spend more time watching video of your own team – in matches and in practice. He specifically talked about “debriefing” on how the team did each day.

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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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