A post by fellow blogger Dan Mickle discusses a potentially useful way to track your team’s performance during a match. It’s a trend line that you draw based on points gained and lost. In a way it works similarly to the terminal actions you could record with the Solo Stats app (which we used at both Svedala and Midwestern State when I coached there). I won’t go into the details here. You can read that for yourself.

Instead, I wanted to touch on a comment Dan made in the post. It goes like this.

Most coaches know when their team is on or off at a specific skill.

I found this observation particularly interesting in that Dan specializes in the psychological side of things. As such, I’m sure he realizes how poorly we tend to recall things. As I’ve sort of talked about before, we have a lot of built in biases, not to mention the fact that our perspective from the sidelines doesn’t always give us the best information.

One of the biggest biases is Confirmation Bias. Basically, that means we tend to only see and/or remember things that support our preconceived notions.

Here’s a prime example.

We think servers tend to miss more serves after timeouts. This is confirmed each time we see it happen. Mark Lebedew’s research doesn’t support this idea, though. In fact, he’s found the opposite tends to be true.

The confirmation thing can also lead us to ignore evidence in the opposite direction. An example of this comes from my time as a Division I assistant.

We were in a match and I was tracking serve reception stats, as I usually did. The head coach asked me for the comparative stats between our two defensive specialists, but didn’t believe me when I said one was outperforming the other – the wrong way around based on their expectations. Basically, they were unhappy with the one with the better stats for some reason and sought confirmation that they were in fact under-performing. It took me showing them the data to get them to believe what I said.

And Confirmation Bias is just one of many biases.

That’s the point of collecting and reviewing statistics. I noted in this post that you can benefit in some ways from not having them, but the fact of the matter is they provide objective measurements.

My point is it’s best not to rely on your memory or perceptions. Best if you can have the objective measure of the statistics to help with that. You just need to know what you’re measuring and don’t let yourself get carried away.

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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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