Crunch Time Attack Analysis – 2021 Olympics

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Tagged – Volleyball Analytics, 2021 Olympic Volleyball, Attack Statistics

Like everybody, I like to spend my free time playing around the Science Untangled volleyball apps for fun. You never know what you will find once you start to dig around. I have already found a bunch of stuff using that method from the Olympics Games (here, here, and here). This time I thought I would look at crunch time.

Coach development resources available here.

Crunch time is defined as a score of 18-18 or higher (8-8 in the 5th set) with the score difference of 2 points or less (i.e. 18-16 is not crunch time, 20-18 is, 21-18 is not, etc.). In matches between the top 10 teams, there were 24 spikers who attacked at least 17 times in crunch time. The most crunch time attacks of any player was Ngapeth with 37. No middle blockers qualified under these conditions. The top ten crunch time attackers are listed below. Also listed is the Crunch Time Index (CT attack % – non CT attack %, the higher the number the better), the player’s CT Index rank and their non crunch time rank among the group of 24. All rankings are among the 24 qualifiers. The top ten includes most of the attackers you would expect to see, or at least aren’t surprised to see. The possible exceptions to that are Patry and Salehi, although we now know that they are both excellent attackers who will see a lot more of in the future. What is interesting is the the best crunch time attackers were below average the rest of the time. Lucarelli and Conte in particular were more than 16% better with the set on the line than at any other time.


19 Practice Plans for the Preparation Period

While we are here let’s look at the team rankings. Only four team had a positive CT Index. Interestingly, two of those teams, Russia and Argentina, could be considered to have ‘outperformed their stats’. They were ranked 8th and 10th in non crunch time attack which is normally a pretty good indicator of the likelihood of success for a team. You can see the pre final day rankings of the teams here. On the other hand Poland had the best attack in the tournament, but only the fifth best crunch time attack, and 8th best CT Index. The best three teams in overall attack were Poland, USA and Italy. They ranked respectively 8th, 10th and 9th in CT Index. And were all at home before the semi finals. Although so was Iran who were very good in crunch time. No statistic is perfect.


Do you want to learn about teaching midde blockers? Would you like a sneak preview into my practice? Do you want to improve you communication skills? Those and other coach development resources available here.

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