What data do you use to manage in-game coaching decisions? Alexz Smith from Matchbox Volleyball Club shares how she tracks solely the result of each play to provide quick and meaningful data to manage mid-game decision making.

Coach Smith uses a points scoring sheet to gather set data with the purpose of making mid-set changes to playing personnel, defensive positioning, offensive strategy, or player focus. Even better, one coach can track it alone without missing a second of the match. View a sample Volleyball Scoring Sheet here. Print this out and try it at your next match!

With the use of a points scoring sheet, the coach tracks how each play ends and which player ended it. Ultimately, the goal is to know:

1. Did our team EARN the point?

2. Did our team ERROR the point?

3. Did our opponent EARN the point?

4. Did our opponent ERROR the point?

This information, in addition to how and who earned/errored the point, helps coaches understand which team (and which players) are in control of the scoring. When either team has a high error rate, the scoreboard can be misleading. The data presented in the points scoring sheet gives coaches data as the match is played that can be used to make informed, mid-set coaching decisions that can change the outcome of a set or match.

Here is an example of how the information can be applied during a match:
  • Establish a goal for both earned and error points for each set. Use these goals to keep the players focused on the individual set at hand rather than focusing on the entirety of the game, or the entirety of the tournament.
  • Empower your players to help solve issues that you see arising in the set. For example, let’s say your team has a goal of seven or fewer errors. The score is 10-10, your team has missed five serves, and you have earned five kills in defensive transition; the opposing team has no first-ball kills. With this data as the source, encourage the servers to serve low-error serves, because the opponent’s first-ball offense is something you can effectively defend and later score.
  • Explain to players why the data supports this coaching decision which, in-turn, creates a buy-in with the players, gives the defense a boost of confidence, and lessens pressure on the servers. Players are no longer thinking about “not missing a serve,” but instead capitalizing on the team’s defensive confidence and looking for ways to earn a point later in the play.

Give it a try at your next tournament by keeping track of your team’s earned and errored points first; then, progress to tracking your opponent’s points. If coaches and players can better understand why the scoreboard reads the way it does, we can all be more effective students of the game.

For more resources on Game Management click HERE.

Matchbox Volleyball Club (Aberdeen, SD) is a member of the Junior Volleyball Association, an organization committed to enhancing the junior volleyball experience for club directors, coaches, players, and fans. For more information about joining the JVA click HERE.