In the discussion which followed on from sharing the Volleyball Tournament Format – 3 pools of 3 on 2 courts, someone brought up the idea of odd numbers of teams when planning a volleyball pool format. That made me remember something we used when I was the Girls’ Juniors Scheduler for the New England Region (NERVA).

We sometimes had situations where we only had 7 teams in a 2-court facility. Normally you’d be planning to run two pools of 4. In a 7-team case, I’ve seen tournament directors do one pool of 4 and one pool of 3. In the latter case, they basically did two rounds of play. That meant each team played 4 matches rather than the usual 3.

That arrangement isn’t bad in terms of total amount of play. It kind of stinks, though, that you may end up playing just two teams in the tournament (for example, if you finish third and don’t advance to bracket play). Somewhere along the way we started using a 7-team volleyball pool format in those situations. It looked something like this (courtesy of Yankee Volleyball):

7-teams on 2 courts Volleyball Pool Format

In our normal 4-team pools each match was two 21-point sets. That’s a total of 12 sets played per court, with each team playing 6 sets. If we played two sets in a 7-team format it would have basically doubled the time required to get through pool play. This may be fine if you’re not planning on doing play-off brackets. If you are, though, or you have time constraints, you may want to just play “matches” of just a single set (maybe fully to 25). The end result is that teams still get 6 total sets – same as in a 4-team pool. Now, though, it’s against 6 different opponents. Personally, I think that is a plus. It also provides more data for rankings and such.

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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.