Tuesday, 28 May 2024

The Importance of Limiting Errors in Volleyball


When discussing great volleyball performances, it is common to focus on impressive kills and aces. However, if you’re a coach or player, it is crucial to understand that the key to winning matches lies in limiting hitting and serving errors. This principle is highly emphasized by coach Hugh McCutcheon of the U.S. Women’s National Team.

Coach McCutcheon illustrates this point by using a simple example. Consider a high school team that successfully side outs 55% of the time and scores points 45% of the time. This means that every time they give their opponents the ball, they have a 9-in-20 chance of winning the point, while every time the opponent gives them the ball, they have an 11-in-20 chance. However, if they hit the ball out or serve poorly, there is a zero-in-20 chance of scoring a point. These statistics clearly demonstrate that hitting the ball out or serving poorly has a significant detrimental impact on the team’s chances of winning.

Thus, as a player, it is important to be mindful of the circumstances and not solely focus on delivering powerful hits or serves on every play. Volleyball is a game of strategy and precision, where accuracy and placement play a crucial role.

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According to Doug Beal, the CEO of USA Volleyball and former coach of three indoor U.S. Men’s Olympic Teams, including the 1984 gold medalists, the emphasis should be on serving accurately and to the appropriate zone or individual, rather than trying to replicate the powerful serves of players like Clay Stanley, who won the 2008 Olympic Games MVP award.

Stanley’s powerful serves undoubtedly played a vital role in the U.S. team’s success, but trying to mimic his serves before mastering essential skills is akin to attempting to emulate LeBron James before perfecting the fundamentals of basketball.

Beal emphasizes that the same principle applies to hitting. While it is crucial to teach outside hitters how to execute powerful kills, it is equally important to teach them when they should attempt a kill. Factors such as the quality of the set, the strength of the block, and the hitter’s positioning all play a significant role in determining the success of a kill.

By understanding these principles and focusing on minimizing errors and maximizing precision, players and coaches can significantly improve their chances of winning matches. Volleyball is not just about hitting the ball with brute force; it is about intelligent play and making strategic decisions at pivotal moments.


Q: What is the most important factor in winning volleyball matches?

A: While kills and aces are impressive, the most important factor in winning matches is limiting hitting and serving errors.

Q: Who emphasizes the importance of limiting errors in volleyball?

A: Coach Hugh McCutcheon of the U.S. Women’s National Team is a strong advocate for minimizing errors.

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Q: Should players prioritize powerful hits and serves over accuracy?

A: No, accuracy and precision are crucial in volleyball. Simply focusing on power without considering the circumstances can lead to errors and decrease the team’s chances of winning.


In conclusion, the main takeaway in volleyball is that limiting errors is more important than solely focusing on powerful hits and serves. Coaches and players should prioritize accuracy, precision, and strategic decision-making to increase their chances of success on the court. By understanding the significance of minimizing errors, teams can improve their overall performance and increase the likelihood of winning matches.

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