In volleyball there is often a discussion about what actually constitutes the offensive and defensive phases of the game. In most (all?) sports, offence and defence are defined as possession or otherwise of the ball. If you have the ball you are on offence. If they have the ball you are on defence. If you are not up on the debate (it is not a big one, but it still pops up every now and then) the only time you actually have the ball in your hand in a volleyball match is when you are serving. Normally this would be considered ‘offence’. But in volleyball it is considered the first phase of defence, and the sideout team is on offence because generally they have the advantage. The nature of the game of volleyball has upended the concept of offence and defence. The same applies to how we should understand errors, or more specifically what happens when we try to avoid errors**.
In most sports If you keep the ball, you are the only team that can score. If you make an error, most often it is in the form of a turnover of some sort. Therefore, you no longer have a chance to score but your opponent does. It makes sense to some degree, that keeping the ball at all costs means that at the very least only you can score. Volleyball is different. There is no possession in volleyball. You cannot keep the ball. At some point, within three contacts, you have to try to make a point. Making points is good, but if somewhere along the way, you make an error, the opponent gets an actual point. The opponent winning a point is a bad thing (probably, maybe…), ergo don’t make errors. Except…
To give the ball to the other team without trying to score is not the avoidance of error, it is actually the equivalent of a turnover in other sports. Now the other team has the ball, and with it the chance to score. A better solution to turning the ball over is to recycle it, that is play the ball into the block in order to cover the rebound and get another chance to score a point.
So to summarise, offence is defence, an error loses a point directly, avoiding errors is actually a turnover, but there is a way you can keep possession after your three contacts. Volleyball is complicated.
About Mark Lebedew:
Mark Lebedew authors the At Home on the Court Blog. He coaches professionally in Poland, from january 2021 with eWinner Gwardia Wrocław, in season 2019/20 with Aluron Virtu CMC Warta Zawiercie and in the period 2015-2018 with KS Jastrzębski Węgiel. That follows five seasons Germany where his Berlin Recycling Volleys won three straight league titles and a CEV Champions League bronze medal. He has prior professional experience in Belgium and Italy. Mark was also Head Coach for the Australian Men’s National Team. From 2021/2022 leads VfB Friedrichshafen, while in 2022 he led the Slovenian national team during the Volleyball Nations League.
Mark partnered with his brother and father to translate and publish “My Profession: The Game“, the last book by legendary Russian coach, Vyacheslav Platonov.
With John Forman, he is behind the Volleyball Coaching Wizards project (link http://volleyballcoachingwizards.com/) which identifies great coaches from all levels, making their experience, insights, and expertise available to people all over the world. The project has produced multiple books, a in e-book format available here ( link to http://bit.ly/34yakou ) or at Amazon here (link https://amzn.to/2JRqTE6).
In 2021, he launched project Webinars and Presentations on Demand. If you are interested for coaching presentations and webinars available on demand, click here.