Data analytics is here and is the biggest thing to happen to Volleyball since who knows when.
It used to be a product only the biggest and best volleyball schools could afford, but now even smaller schools are investing money and making it possible to have some sort of analysis on their opponent.
Why is it so important? Coach RJ Abella from the University of South Carolina shares his insights with us after working with analytics for years.
“You can use analytics for several things,” Abella said. “First, to measure if you are getting better or worse. For example, after practice we can find out did we get better or did we get worse this week?
“From the coaching aspect, you can certainly measure if you are getting better or getting worse, but the important tool here is you can find out the why; you can figure out why certain teams are doing so well, as well as what their weaknesses are. As a coach this is an amazing opportunity because you can find out what that weakness is and expose it.”
Abella continues with how much analytics has helped him personally.
“That’s why my team did so well back at Wichita, we knew our opponent much better than they knew themselves. We might not have had the top recruits in the county, but we could slay them because we knew their weaknesses and what exposing them would do. We were one step ahead of them the entire time.
“So while it’s great that you can use analytics to get to know your own team, I have found it incredibly useful in learning more about your opponent and the possible changes that could happen throughout the match. It really levels out the playing field.”
Abella has had coaches ask him if analytics is more important for college or professional teams. His answer?
“I said it’s a loaded question, it could go either way, but when you look at the top teams, be in the NCAA or the world, those teams have the tallest people, most physically gifted, most experience behind them. Essentially, they have the best resources in the world. The only thing that can really separate them is their knowledge of their team and of their opponent.
“At the higher levels it’s even more important because everyone is so similar already, the analytics truly provides the edge. If you are a team towards the top of your division it can give you that boost, but if you aren’t a top dog, maybe this can be your edge even without the other resources. That knowledge is power.”
And just how is it affecting Volleyball?
“It’s really becoming a standard now, you are going to have to evaluate your opponents, execute plans based on what statistically your opponent is weak at, and what your crutch is. Thanks to analytics, those who don’t have a lot of resources make dramatic progress in winning when they were previously losing, just because of metrics, because of statistics. They are winning because of what the statistics deemed them worthy of. It has become this phenomenon, where smaller teams are winning playoffs and more games than the big dogs.”
Data analytics is certainly a powerful tool, and the important thing to remember is it doesn’t have to be confusing or hard to understand. Your team can go so much further with the right statistics. And if you ever have questions about how to do that, well, you know where to find VolleyMetrics.
Thanks so much for your thoughts Coach Abella and best of luck to your team! Go Gamecocks!