The stats sheet uses the word attack as it includes the myriad of attack types of a wide variety of speeds, with closed and open hand. Spiking is but one of those although the historically most important and effective one. Ultimately this means that the terms spike and attack are for all intents and purposes understood as being equivalent and the terms used interchangeably.
It follows that most, but not all, coaches will focus their practices around teaching and improving spiking. Spiking has the advantage that among all volleyball spikes it is the most objective. How to jump high and impart maximum velocity on the ball are questions that biomechanics provides unequivocal answers.
Some coaches have evolved an understanding of the game that raises the importance of other forms of attack and adjust their training appropriately. These coaches understand, at least implicitly that spiking is not important by itself. What is important is the attack. This makes a huge difference to the game. Creating opportunities to attack is fundamentally different from creating opportunities to spike. This change in understanding is in large part what has led to the faster transition offences that we see now.
So attack is more important than spiking. But is that the final story?
When we do the statistical analyses that show the importance of attack we interpret attack as an isolated event, or at most an combination of set and attack. But when we interpret the attack measurements (in whatever way) we ignore a significant component of the equation: the opponent. The measurements we make of attack are not isolated or even independent. We are measuring neither aestetics nor mechanics. We are measuring scoring.
As coaches, we know that words are important and by changing a word when providing instruction or feedback we can significantly affect a player or team’s performance. The same applies to how we as coaches think about the game.
When we say ‘volleyball is spiking’, we focus on mechanics. When we say ‘volleyball is attacking’ we open up new possibilities and tactics. When we say ‘volleyball is scoring’ we combine all elements and possibilities and most importantly embrace the reality that attack does not exist without block and defence and structure our training accordingly.
Volleyball is not spiking. Volleyball is scoring.
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