Volleyball Training

Reacting to a study on serve reception

Reacting to a study on serve reception

In a discussion about my post on teaching center-line (midline) passing vs. platform angle someone referenced this article. It’s about a study done on passers in the 2019 women’s World Championships. The author of the piece said the objective was to “…test the paradigm that serves in the women’s game are coming to passers so quickly that it is virtually impossible to get behind the ball to pass it effectively.”

I am all for research, of course. I also think, however, that we need to be cautious in our interpretations of the findings. Research almost always has limitations. Also, it’s easy to fall into confirmation bias and only take on that which supports or own prior beliefs.

The 2019 WC study came up when someone posted:

Here were there stats:
– 3,255 total serve-receive passes
– 70% of passes were “centerline”
– 30% of passes were “angle platform”

Centerline passing rating was 2.69
Angle Platform rating was 2.36

The study revealed two things –
1) 70% of the time, players at the highest levels of women’s volleyball, have enough time to get behind the ball (centerline)
2) when they receive serve and their passing rating was higher than those who receive via angle platform.

They didn’t link to the study, so I had to go search for it. Turns out it doesn’t have numbers on pass ratings. It simply says, “…when passers were able to get behind the ball, their passing average was higher compared to the times they were solely depending on their platform angle.” The poster admitted mashing together 3 different articles, though didn’t say what the other two are. I have seen at least one other article showing the pass rating stuff. Jim Stone has an image of passer ratings relative to midline based on a 2015 analysis. Regardless, I’m wiling to go along with the idea that passing on your midline generally produces the best results.

Getting back to the comment, though, I took issue with the first revealed thing. Passing the ball centerline doesn’t automatically imply movement. The ball can simply go straight to the passer. This is not to suggest that was the case in all of those passes, of course. But it’s definitely true of some fraction. The poster drew a conclusion not actually presented in the article.

Turning to the actual study

I did find the post about the study interesting, but with some issues.

They did find that 69% of passes came when the passer was “… able to get their…

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