Plan Your Attack: First Ball and Transition Kills

In blog three of our six-part series, we dive into one of the most use­ful stats and how it can encour­age your offense to take advan­tage of every oppor­tu­ni­ty to score.

Plan Your Attack: First Ball and Transition Kills

In blog three of our six-part series, we dive into one of the most use­ful stats and how it can encour­age your offense to take advan­tage of every oppor­tu­ni­ty to score.

Some coach­es put a high empha­sis on stats like hit­ting per­cent­age, serv­ing per­cent­age or pass qual­i­ty rat­ing. While those are key, we all know the out­come of the match is depen­dent on your team’s abil­i­ty to side out — and tak­ing that oppor­tu­ni­ty away from your oppo­nent. In the third part of our series with The Art of Coaching Volleyball, we’re focus­ing on first ball kills and scor­ing in transition.

The Problem

Ever notice you grip your clip­board just a bit tighter when it comes time for serve receive in a spe­cif­ic rota­tion? If your team con­sis­tent­ly strug­gles to side out in rota­tion one, it’ll start cost­ing you key sets and match­es. Is it because of pass­ing? Were there tough match-ups in the front row? Use our attack ten­den­cies report to get to the bot­tom of it quickly.

The Diagnosis

You select your last five match­es and fil­ter to show only attacks in rota­tion one. Then, you scroll down and choose first ball as the phase. You notice most of the swings are just zero attacks (attacks that didn’t end the play) — your front row isn’t being aggres­sive enough. 

It might be ide­al to side out on the first ball every time, but it’s not real­is­tic. When it doesn’t hap­pen, you want your team to score in tran­si­tion. So you fil­ter by tran­si­tion balls. You notice sim­i­lar things — a lot of red lines (errors) and grey lines (zero attacks) but very few kills.

So you select attempts in the play­er stats table, which takes you to the video clips asso­ci­at­ed with those swings. Right away, you notice that your out­side is late almost every time and your mid­dle is rarely up and call­ing for the ball.

The Solution

Luckily, there are a lot of drills out there that’ll help your team improve in these two areas. The first one from The Art of Coaching Volleyball mim­ics a high-pres­sure, game-like sit­u­a­tion that’ll push your team to get the first ball kill. 

Be sure to also check out this tem­po drill that focus­es on quick tran­si­tions and sid­ing out under pres­sure. Once a side wins three free balls in tran­si­tion, they need to side out to get a big point”. This encour­ages aggres­sive serves and defense from the side that’s serv­ing, and great pass­ing and attack­ing under pres­sure from the oppos­ing team. 

Want to see more drills and coach­ing tips? Head over to The Art of Coaching Volleyball to start learn­ing. And stay tuned for blog four in this series, Defense Behind a Block.