Monday, 27 May 2024

Five Keys to Scouting Your Opponent

Originally published in VolleyballUSA, Winter 2014-15 issue

Scouting your opponent is a crucial part of preparing for any sports competition. Understanding how offenses change depending on the quality of the pass can give your team a critical advantage. In this article, we will explore five key factors to consider when scouting your opponent in volleyball.

Understand Passing Locations

One of the first things you need to know is how an opponent’s offense changes based on pass quality and location. Different teams have distinct strategies for perfect passes, passes at 10 feet, passes forwarded or passed behind the setter. Knowing what an opponent does in each passing location can provide valuable insights for your team’s defensive and offensive strategies.

Analyze Distribution Tendencies

Once the ball goes to 10 feet, you should have an idea of your opponent’s distribution tendencies. Do they prefer going outside? How do their hitters’ tendencies change when faced with two blockers or three blockers? Understanding these factors can help you formulate effective blocking and defensive strategies to counter their attacks.

Focus on Defensive Strategies

Scouting at the junior level requires paying attention to defensive strategies, especially for teams running a 5-1 or a one-setter offense. Evaluating how effective an opponent’s “D” (back-row attack) is can influence your team’s preparations. If you can identify weaknesses in their defensive play, you can tailor your offensive strategies to exploit those weaknesses, relieving stress on your blockers.

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Uncover Opposition Adjustments

Scouting is not just about identifying an opponent’s strengths and weaknesses but also anticipating how they will adjust during the game. What changes do they make when they face difficulties? Do they substitute certain players or modify their game plan? Understanding their adjustment patterns can empower your team to make better-informed decisions during gameplay.

Identify Match-Ups and Rotations

Knowing the most important match-ups for your team and identifying favorable rotations is another key aspect of scouting. Recognizing which hitters have the best chances against their best blockers can help you strategize offensive plays. Additionally, understanding the opponent’s serving strengths can help you optimize your rotations and ensure that your best passers are positioned to handle their toughest servers.

Scouting plays a vital role in the success of any volleyball team. By gathering and analyzing crucial information about your opponent’s strategies, tendencies, and patterns, you can gain a competitive edge during matches. Remember, the difference between winning and losing often lies in thorough scouting and astute game-time decisions.


Q: How can I determine an opponent’s defensive effectiveness?
A: Evaluating an opponent’s effectiveness in running the back-row defensive strategy (D) is crucial. At the junior level, very few teams can execute it effectively. Identifying weaknesses in their execution can allow you to exploit those areas and gain an advantage.

Q: What should I look for when analyzing match-ups?
A: Focus on identifying which of your hitters can exploit the opponent’s best blockers. Recognizing these favorable match-ups can help you devise strategic offensive plays to maximize your team’s scoring opportunities.

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Q: How can I track an opponent’s tendencies during a match?
A: Utilize a shot chart to track key information during a match. By noting rotations, hit locations, and attack outcomes, you can identify patterns, tendencies, and adjustments that your team can exploit or counter.


Scouting your opponent is an essential aspect of preparing for volleyball matches. By understanding how offenses adapt to different pass qualities and locations, analyzing distribution tendencies, focusing on defensive strategies, uncovering opposition adjustments, and identifying match-ups and rotations, your team can make more informed decisions during gameplay. Stay ahead of the competition by investing time in meticulous scouting and strategic planning.

For more information, tips, and strategies on volleyball scouting, visit