09. 03. 2021

By Mark Lebedew: How Volleyball Has Changed – 2002 Edition

Source: marklebedew.com; Photo:CEV

Author: Mark Lebedew

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While some things in volleyball go out of fashion and come back again, like the second contact pipe, other things change and never go back, like the overall speed of the game in serve, attack and transition. Another area is the area of tactics, especially tactics in serve.


During the 2002 World Championships the standing float serve was not common, but was not unusual. The general aggression of the serve was less than we are accustomed to. It was clearly a different time. What makes the different role of the serve especially clear is with one of the Yugoslavian players. As can be seen below, his normal jump float serve is not particularly penetrating or dangerous, but at least makes the receivers move backwards a little bit.

However, when the match really hung in the balance at 1 set all and 22-23, the tactical solution changed. Instead of making the receivers work a tiny bit, the best option was to serve the easiest possible serve at exactly the middle of the court.

But, and this is the real kicker and an indication of how much volleyball has really changed, that serve won two points in a row and turned the set in favour of Yugoslavia. They eventually lost the set, and the match undoing all that good work. Overall, this rotation, and server, was the second best scoring rotation for Yugoslavia. This was not an isolated incident. Other Yugoslavian servers who had jump and float variations chose the less risky option at important moments. It is very difficult to think of a team that would choose the same option now, and even more difficult to imagine it being successful.

Volleyball has changed.


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. 

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 in print at Amazon here (link https://amzn.to/2JRqTE6)




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