I have written recently comparing the Olympic volleyball tournaments of 2004 and 2021 focusing on the length of rallies and on attack. In the article on rally length I made the statement that defence has improved since 2004 based on nothing other than my own ‘feeling’. Upon reflection, it occured to me that I actually have a statistic for defence and could tell you exactly how much defence has improved.
That statistic is not digs. Digs is not an interesting statistic. Digs don’t measure anything.
The statistic is Counter Attack Rate (CAR). It was developed by Ben Raymond from Science Untangled and is part of all reports that are produced by their apps. It measures that the percentage of opponent’s attacks that were converted into a transition attack. That is, not just balls that were kept alive. Obviously, attack errors, or blocked attacks are not considered as attacks that could have been defended.
In 2004, 27.2% of attacks were transitioned to attack.
In 2021, 27.6% of attacks were transitioned to attack.
I think we can agree that whatever has changed in volleyball in the last 17 years, defence is not ‘better’. Or at least is not better relative to attack. I have to admit that surprises me a little.
At the end of the ‘Attack’ article I wanted to write, the more things change, the more they stay the same.