It is conventional wisdom in volleyball, and indeed in most sports, that the team that makes the fewest errors should win. Many maintain that attack efficiency, and therefore implicitly attack errors, are the key determinant to success. Conversely many say that a minimum number of service errors is required in order to develop enough pressure to win.
However to the best of my knowledge noone has ever looked at other kinds of errors or how the total number of errors might influence the outcome. It sounds like something we should know about.
The first problem is how to measure errors. Total errors might be one way to go if we are looking at individual sets. But in general totals, or even per set averages, are not very good because they don’t take into account number of opportunities. Therefore the obvious measurement is a percentage of total contacts. But that ends up being a very small number if you include every single contact. And how do you include block attempts which don’t necessarily touch the ball but can still lead to a rally ending error?
The number I have started working is errors per 100 rallies. The errors that are included are the unforced errors, those is service, attack, setting, free balls, blocking (i.e. net touches). Reception errors are considered ‘forced’ errors. The numbers ends up being quite nice. In my league the average number of errors per 100 rallies is between 12 and 16. Conversely the number of points ‘won’ is between 30 and 36. I haven’t done any serious analysis but eyeballing it, it looks like there might be something there.
My question is: Is this a reasonable way to measure errors? Can you think of a better way?
All comments welcome.
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