Tokyo Olympic 1st Level Analysis

2021-08-24 • 984 views

This is a post from my Facebook page that I've done few weeks ago, thought I can share it here too with fellow coaches, welcome to discuss and share your perspective and learn from each other.

Tokyo Olympics 2020 has come to an end after a year of postponement. In both men’s and women’s volleyball, France and USA have won gold medals for the event respectively for the first-time, creating new history for their program.

As a volleyball coach and analyst, analysis can be done on the events to better understand the trends and performances of the teams. Several level of analysis can be done, the simplest one being analyzing the technical statistic records (e.g., P3 forms) of the teams.

We paired the winner and loser of each match, compare the means on these results using paired-sample t-test to investigate the differences of these results.

*P3 forms were recorded by trained personnel using system similar to VIS (Volleyball Information System). However, there will still be certain level of human error. Neither inter-observer reliability nor intra-observer reliability has been carried out.

*Paired-sample t-test requires the data to be normally distributed, but normality of these data was not examined. This study serves no purpose for academic research but just to provide simple analysis for practical food for thoughts. Other analysis method such as Wilcoxon Signed-Ranks Test should be carried out as well.

In Men’s, both Spike Kills and Kill% exhibits statistical differences between winning team and losing team, with winner score 5.55 points more and 7.31% higher Kill%. Same pattern was observed in Women’s, but exhibit greater differences at 9.08 points more and 10.56% higher.

Spike Errors and Spike Error% of winners are also lower, 4.08 points less and 4.59% lower for Men’s and 5.74 points less and 5.88% lower for Women’s.

What is interesting is that only Women’s In-play Spike and In-play Spike% show statistical significance between winner and loser, with winner has less In-play Spike and lower In-play Spike%.

The above results might suggest that in Women’s game, aggressive attack increase the chance of winning. Whereas in Men’s, tactical shots that didn’t win point could bring benefits to the team in subsequent play. This could also suggest that transition in Women’s game might be more significant than in Men’s game. Winning Men’s team and losing Men’s team might not have differences in transition play. (2nd or 3rd level analysis required to obtained more insight.)

On Blockings, both Men’s and Women’s have shown same pattern, with winners have more Stuff Blocks and higher Stuff Block%. These differences are higher in Women’s match. This supports the view of many coaches commenting that Women’s game has become more physical and aggressive like Men’s volleyball.

On Serves, only Women’s Serve Aces% has reached statistical significance, suggesting that Women’s serve has become more aggressive and favors the winners.

Defensive performances still exhibit importance in both Men’s and Women’s game. It is even more important in Women’s game, since Women’s winners have more Excellent Digs, and less Error Digs. In-play Digs is not significant factor. This further support the saying that “defense is for offense”, only digs that are good enough for successful transition play affect the results.

On Receptions, only Women’s In-play Reception% have significant differences between winner and loser, with winners have lower %, suggesting that efficient side-out is crucial for winning. Men’s In-play Reception% are not statistically different. This could be a sign that even though reception is not excellent, but both winners and losers of Men’s still can attack efficiently, so it is not decisive factor between winners and losers. This could also suggest that Men’s serve has become more aggressive, being able to cause off-system attack for both winning and losing team. However, keeping the serve in-play is important, for Men’s still can play off-system effectively.

What is the bring home message?

1. For Men’s Volleyball, train to have aggressive serve and train to receive high and sacrifice a bit on Excellent Receptions to compete at higher-level match. Train spikers to spike off-system effectively. Train tactical shots for Men’s when aggressive spike is challenged.

2. For Women’s Volleyball, train to have higher Excellent Reception% for effective side-out. Women’s game is more side-out dominant than Men’s.

3. Train players to defense good enough for transition, it does not matter much if you can keep the ball in-play but unable to convert the defense to offense.

4. Train more side-out for Women’s and train more off-systems for Men’s.

5. Aces are important for Men’s but so as in-play serves. Control the margin of serve error in Men’s game since Ace% is not significant but SE% is significant. Women’s on the other hand, should go aggressive since Ace% is higher for winner but error% is not significant.

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