Keeping and Understanding Volleyball Stats: The 5 (ish) Basics

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Volleyball stats offer a (mostly) objective look at player and team performance, and can be vital to helping determine appropriate areas of focus for future training, determining optimal rotations, and providing a broad look at team performance overall.

Looking at individual stats can help players understand their strengths and weaknesses, analyze match performance, and in some instances, even help them get recruited.

Although stats SEEM intimidating… they don’t have to be! Coaches and parents new to volleyball should not be intimidated by the overwhelming spreadsheets, computations, and volleyball jargon common when discussing volleyball stats.

I’m going to break down some of the more basic statistics for you, so you can feel more confident coaching volleyball, watching volleyball, and talking volleyball.

FIRST THINGS FIRST: NOT EVERYONE KEEPS STATS THE SAME

Some teams track only how points were scored at the end of a rally, others keep track of every single touch and then some even go BEYOND stats with percentages and feedback provided using apps (they can see realtime stats like sideout percentage, etc). So let me be clear here.. its OK if your method is different than how you see others taking stats!

Some teams have players who are able to track stats reliably on the bench, others have to rely on the one and only coach being able to stat and coach at the same time, and sometimes 2-3 assistant coaches track different stats throughout the match.

DO NOT GET OVERWHELMED! I’m going to make things super simple for you. There are a handful of stats that are more or less universally tracked, and (thankfully) they’re pretty easy to understand!

Printable My Volleyball Stats
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Have you ever wanted to track stats for your child’s volleyball matches, but weren’t sure how to get started? Let me help you! I’ve designed this simple volleyball stat sheet PERFECT for parents interested in tracking their player’s performance.

NUMBER OF ACES

The number of aces a player gets is often a stat that’s a) super easy to track, and b) often gets reported when players enter higher levels of competition (think large club tournaments and for high school varsity teams).

An ace is simply a serve that goes directly to the floor inbounds on the opponents side immediately following the service contact, OR, a serve which the opposing team is not able to control (like a touch on the ball but it flies behind the passer and no one else on the team can get to it, or a ball which is passed directly into the net).

The number of aces is often reported, so no need to do fancy calculations (although you can find ace and serving percentages if you’d like).

NUMBER OF DIGS

A dig is anytime a player passes up a ball which has been attacked by the opponent. The ATTACK part is critical to effectively determining this stat, because a ball which is passed over the net by the opponent would not result in a dig for your team/player. A pass in serve receive would not count either.

A dig does NOT need to go directly to the setter to be counted. Of course, this is what we’d LIKE to see happen, but even a pass off an attack which flies back over the net is considered a dig. As long as the ball remains in play, we count it!

Again, no need to do anything fancier than tally marks on your stat sheet to track this one, as the number of digs is the most common way to report this stat.

DOUBLE CLICK THE IMAGES TO DOWNLOAD THESE FREE TEAM STAT SHEETS

NUMBER OF ASSISTS

Are you sensing a theme here? Many of the REPORTED stats are just numbers, plain and simple.

An assist would be any time a players sets the ball to another player who attacks the ball, resulting in a kill (which we’ll get to next). This is probably the toughest stat to track, because you have to wait for another touch or two to happen before you can track this statistic. For coaches in charge of tracking the whole match, this can also be difficult because after the dig, we look down to write who passed the attack, and then back up in time to see the attack, but we miss who set the ball.

Thankfully, it is USUALLY the setter who set the ball, but it’s worth having a stat buddy sitting nearby whom you can confirm this with.

Two technicalities: 1) An assist does not need to come from an overhand set, and 2) someone other than the setter can still get an assist. You’ll most commonly see a libero with assists from a forearm pass on the second ball because they’ll usually train to take the second ball if the setter passes the first one.

NUMBER OF KILLS

My personal favorite stat, the kill. This is anytime your team makes an attacking motion on the ball (full approach and armswing, backrow attack, tip, setter dump, etc.) and the contact results in an immediate point.

Think of it like an ace. Either it goes directly to the ground, or a player on the opposing team makes a contact which is not playable by anyone else on their team.

Although you’ll definitely know WHEN you get a kill (everyone cheers, it’s magical), it might be hard to track WHO hit the ball. Again… get yourself a stat buddy!

NUMBER OF BLOCKS

The type of block that we’re going to track here is a block which results in an immediate point. Although I personally like to track any ball that is blocked (even if it remains in play), most stats trackers will only ask for blocks which resulted in a point (i.e., the ball went straight down to the ground or the block caused a point by an opposing player mishandling the ball after the block, resulting in a point).

If you want to get really fancy, you can track “solo blocks” (when only one person goes up and blocks the ball) and “block assists” (when two+ players go up to block the ball, each player gets a block assist regardless of who actually touched the ball).

Most reports count each solo block as “1” block and block assists as “0.5“ blocks.

As I said, I like to track touches on the ball too, that way I personally know who is getting touches but doesn’t quite have it figured out yet. Remember, stats can be personalized for what you want to track, so don’t be ashamed to deviate from the norm!


 
 

SETS PLAYED

Number of blocks, kills, assists, etc. don’t really mean much unless we look at them in the big picture. Keeping track of how many sets players play in is important (again, in club tournaments and at the high school varsity level) so that way can evaluate each of the above skills fairly across the board. For you newbies around here, a set is one game to 25.

Let’s say two liberos each have 40 digs for the day. One libero played in 4 sets total, and the other played in 8. Which is the more effective libero?

The one who averaged 10 digs/set!

Of course, sometimes rotations and substitutions don’t always work themselves out FAIRLY, so a middle blocker who subs in late might not have as many OPPORTUNITIES to block, and therefore will likely have a lower number of blocks, but… that’s just the nature of the game!

Players need to go out and make an impact when they’re in. Whether they get 5 points to do so or 10 points is entirely up to the flow of the match.

Keep track of lineups and substitutions to effectively measure player impact.

MORE ON STATS

Although the “Big Five” of volleyball statistics are important, tracking more information will allow coaches (and parents) a better look at performance overall. Tracking things like service attempts, errors, and service zones offer a greater depth of information related to serving performance than just aces. That is, AS LONG AS YOU WADE THROUGH THE NUMBERS POST-GAME!

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There are also many different percentages you can look at for your team, depending on what you track. Using an app to track stats will spit out realtime numbers for you, but I HIGHLY recommend having an assistant or two run these programs so the head coach is free to coach. There are plenty of good stat apps out there, but they don’t all track what I want, so I still keep paper stats.

There are also some pretty cool stats you can track BESIDES the basics, as demonstrated by this Game Graph (aka, Trend Line) submitted by a Get The Pancake reader (Thanks Coach Gilchrist!).

Regardless of WHAT you decide to track, consistency is key! Make sure to read up before the season starts so you can accurately track progress throughout your season.

GOOD LUCK! Please let me know if you have any questions about tracking stats :)