Modern trends in serving and setting skills in elite volleyball

Yu.Yu. Kareva1
PhD, Associate Professor I.V. Nikolaeva1
PhD, Associate Professor Y.V. Shikhovtsov1
Senior Lecturer Y.V. Kudinov1
PhD, Associate Professor L.A. Ivanova1
1Samara State University of Economics, Samara

Keywords: volleyball, elite athletes, competitive performance, serving, setting.

Background. In modern elite men’s volleyball a special priority is given to the attacking power building in many aspects including the serve techniques, game tactics and coordination of the receiving, setting and attacking players [2, 5, 6]. Sport excellence systems need to by supported by a flow of objective data on the key qualitative and quantitative characteristics of the modern serving, receiving and setting techniques [1, 3, 4].
Objective of the study was to identify and analyze the key serving, receiving and setting techniques and progress trends in the modern elite volleyball.
Method and structure of the study. We analyzed the elite volleyball players’ competitive performance data mined by educational surveys and video captures processed by computerized Data Volley-2007 system. Subject to analysis were 52 matches of Nova Volleyball Club (Samara Oblast) played in the Russian Super League Championships in 2016-2018.
Results and discussion. The study found the elite players making 20-22 serves per match, with at most 18 of them (81.8%) successfully set by the defenders; whilst the remaining 18.2% are inaccurate i.e. end up in the net, out or by a ball handling error. Setting success rate in top-ranking events is estimated at 43.6-76.8%, with the median value varying under 60%. Success of the receiving and setting depends on the serve style and spot, numbers of setters, libero’s mastery and the teamwork in the specific match. Generally, serves may be executed from А, В and С thirds of the serve zone: see Table 1.

Table 1. Serve styles and spots, %
 

Competitive performance profiling surveys and analysis found the modern serve styles dominated (70.3%) by the jump power serves, with the float serve estimated at 29.7%. The serving players tend to make both float and power serves as difficult as possible by jumping and hitting the ball in the top point.
Dominating (56.0%) in the serve spotting statistics is the right third followed by the left one (32.8%), with only 11.2% of the serves coming from the middle third, irrespective of the serve style; and with the run-up varying under 3m. The power serves were found countered by low two-hands receptions, with the overhead receptions estimated at 0.5% only: see Table 2.

Table 2. Reception styles and success rates, %
 

Elite teams receive the floaters both by the overhead (51.2%) and low (48.8%) receptions, with the reception success rate for the floaters being somewhat higher than for the power serves: 67.4% and 52.2%, respectively; with the average success rate estimated at 59.8% - that is by far lower than the standard for the elite sport (75-80%). It should be noted that every elite team makes 4-5 aces per match on average.
It should be also mentioned that normally three players of the defending team cooperate in the service reception and setting albeit we believe this is no more efficient enough since the serve speeds nowadays are far in excess of the player’s movement speeds.
Conclusion. It was found that the top volleyball masters give preference to the jump power serves followed by floaters; power serve setting is commonly less successful than the float serve setting; and most of the serves come from the right third of the serve zone. Serve reception and setting is efficient and accurate enough when the defenders watch closely the serving opponent to guess the serve style and target by the first signs. Elite training systems must make due emphasis on the technical/ tactical skills exceling to facilitate the serve anticipation skills for efficient defense.

References

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Corresponding author: niv2017@bk.ru

Abstract
The article gives analysis of the elite volleyball players’ competitive performance data mined by educational surveys with video captures processed by computerized Data Volley-2007 system. Subject to analysis were 52 matches of Nova Volleyball Club (Samara Oblast) played in the Russian Super League Championships in 2016-2018.
The study data cover the key qualitative and quantitative characteristics of the modern serving and setting skills. It was found that the top volleyball masters give preference to the jump power serves followed by floaters; power serve receiving and setting is commonly less successful than the floater setting; and most of the serves come from the right third of the serve zone. The study data give the means to analyze the key progress trends in the modern volleyball and show that that receiving and setting is efficient and accurate enough when the setter watches closely the serving opponent to guess the serve style and target by the first signs. Elite training systems must make due emphasis on the technical/ tactical skills exceling to facilitate the serve anticipation skills in setters for efficient defense.