Service Errors Are Good For Volleyball

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“For a Brazilian, the perfect (football/soccer) match is one that finishes 1-0, with a disputed penalty in the injury time. Because that is the kind of match that ilicits the maximum emotion.”

I really wish I remember who and where I got that quote, and apologise for not properly attributing it, but it something that has stuck in my mind for a long time. That word ’emotion’ is something that has come up a lot in my time in Europe. When my team won the bronze medal in the Polish league last season, all the speeches began by thanking the team for the great emotions in the season. I have lost count of the number of times fans have talked to me about how could I control my emotions during matches, because theirs are a complete mess. Sure, there is feedback about how the team may or may not have played, but the emotions caused by the match are always the biggest part of a fan’s enjoyment.

And what does that have to do with serving? If you sit in a crowd at a big match you can feel the collective tension rise as the big servers go back to serve, especially if the match is close. And that collective tension is released as joy, if the the serve is an ace, relief, if it is at least in play, or anger / disappointment / frustration, if the serve is an error. If a team makes a series of errors as the set comes to a close, then that collective tension rises with each opportunity that comes and goes.

Emotions, of all kinds, not only positive, in sporting events are created by uncertainty. The more uncertain the situation (well matched teams, close sets, tie breaks, risky serves etc) the greater the emotion. In a volleyball match, the greatest moment of uncertainty is when a jump server goes back. If you take away that uncertainty of the serve by disincentivising risk, you will make serves easier. If all serves are easier, you will have more perfect receptions and all rallies will end up looking almost exactly the same. There will be no uncertainty. And where there is no uncertainty, there is no emotion.

Service errors are good for volleyball.

The collection of Coaching Tips can be found here.

For more great coaching tips, check out the Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.

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  1. A comment on emotion:
    Side out – a tense match – scores close, just one point can make the difference – server collects the ball – he is going to jump, around the court tension rise – he bounces the ball throws in the air and starts run up – tension at peak – contact! – tension explodes into emotion POSITIVE – a clear ace or NEGATIVE – ball flounders in the bottom of the net. Tension that builds up and explodes into momentary emotion rarely occurres during the general play other than perhaps in multiple flashes during lengthy rallies.


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