There are lots of ways we can score the games we run in practice. Bonus points are a clear example of this. Often times, though, this scoring is based on outcomes. By that I mean something like giving a bonus point on a stuff block, or giving points based on the quality of a pass.

But what if your focus is on development? Is scoring based on outcomes the best options?

Probably not.

Consider the example of trying to get hitters to be more aggressive. A major thing holding players back from swinging aggressively is fear of making an error, right? That means to encourage aggression you need to make errors inconsequential. So how do you do that? Well, you have to take away negative consequences for those errors (this includes our communication).

So how would you score a game where aggressive attacking is the developmental focus? Simple. Only give points for aggressive swings – regardless of the outcome.

You can do the same thing for any skill.

Want more aggressive serves? Want to see a certain thing in serve receive? Looking for your setter to make a certain type of set? Need your defenders stopped and ready on contact? Not seeing good hitter coverage? Give the team points when they do it right, but don’t give the other team a point if doing it right leads to an error.

There’s a big potential upside to scoring this way. It can tend to get players encouraging each other to do things the way you want because everyone benefits. That’s a pretty good side benefit, right?

This approach is also something you can do to balance out A-side vs. B-side scrimmaging (a specific topic of the second Volleyball Coaching Wizards book). If you give the starters one way to score based on their developmental needs and the non-starters one based on theirs, you can create a more competitive structure.

Think about process scoring as a way to keep a developmental focus when you shift to game play, while also letting you keep things competitive. But make sure you don’t forget to keep up the feedback.

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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.

    2 replies to "Using process scoring in games"

    • Tino

      Do I get this right, if you want to train hitting hard and the player hits hard into the net for example, you give that team a point?
      Imo that contradicts many very fundamental training rules.

      • John Forman

        At the very beginning of the process I would probably be OK with in the net if it’s aggressive. I’d very quickly want those errors to be long, however, and wouldn’t reward in the net.

Please share your own ideas and opinions.