I just recently watched video of a presentation that French National Team coach, Laurent Tillie, gave at the US High Performance Coaching Clinic. In it he talks about the technique he uses with his players for service reception. Very briefly, he talked about how the platform was important and more easily controlled if you allowed the player to bend his elbows. He also said that to be in a stationary position at contact was unrealistic and described the movement that he used instead. When he described it, it seemed reasonable enough although it is, shall we say, an unorthodox idea. Karch Kiraly, coach of the USA women’s National Team, certainly thought so, as in a later session he made a point of saying he disagreed.
It occurred to me that there should be an easy way to find out which was better. For all the talk of efficiency and biomechanics and repeatability, the object of service reception is the play a serve to the setter. A better reception technique should get the ball to the setter more times than a less good technique. We can measure that. And in other skills as well. A better spiking technique will produce measurably more power, or measurably better results. And it occurred to me that while we endlessly debate technique, I have rarely heard someone** support their argument with actual evidence of results. I wondered ‘What if we ask for supporting evidence when we are discussing technique?’ Ultimately the goal of technique is to serve the game, to produce better results. What if we asked for those results?
For the record, at last year’s World Championships France were the best receiving team.
** An earlier version of this post said ‘never’. Gold Medal Squared have evidence on receiving from the centreline versus left / right side of the body.