In his book, Thinking Volleyball, author Mike Hebert offers up a typical scoring chart for his college teams based on winning a 25-point set. It looked like this:

Kills12
Opponent Errors 8
Terminal Blocks2.5
Service Aces2.5

I only share the specific numbers above as an example. It should not be taken as indicative of where your team should be in its point scoring distribution. These numbers are from upper level women’s NCAA Division I play. A typical distribution for teams at other levels, and on the men’s side, could vary considerably. For example, at lower levels of play I’d expect to see the influence of kills and blocks reduced. Similarly, errors and aces likely would be higher.

The point isn’t the specific numbers above, but the idea behind them. As coaches, we should have a good handle on how we score points and how we give them up. That allows us to set training priorities and develop match strategies. Additionally, if we know the point scoring balance of our leading competitors, we can get some sense of where our team needs to be, if it isn’t there already.

For example, going into the 2013-14 season I knew the women’s university team I coached needed to get stronger in the attack. In 2012-13 we could defend with just about anyone and keep our errors down. We just couldn’t get as many kills as we needed to compete at the top level. Recognizing that, from the very start of 2013-14 I focused on a more aggressive attack. We were never a dominant offense. We improved enough, though, within the scope of our overall play to reach the national semifinals.

Caution in thinking about these numbers is required, though. It’s easy to look at the table above and think something like, “Well blocks and aces don’t account for very many points, so we should focus our time elsewhere.” There’s a problem with that kind of mindset, however. While blocking and serving may not directly translate into a lot of points, they both contribute to them indirectly by putting the opposition under pressure. That, in turn, leads to mistakes or easier transition opportunities. So don’t just think all you need to do is work on hitting!

You get the point I’m making, right?

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John Forman
John Forman

John is currently the Talent Strategy Manager for Volleyball England (overseeing the national team pipeline systems), 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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