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Three Keys to Scouting an Opponent

By Junior Volleyball Association, 01/02/18, 12:00PM CST

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And remember, at the end of the day, the number one priority is to focus first on your team's performance and take care of the ball on your side of the net.

Knowing an opponent's tendencies, weaknesses and strengths can help your team overcome some close battles this season. Volleyball is a game of strategy, shifts in momentum and scoring runs. Scouting your opponents before or during a tournament can give your team a competitive advantage.

It is important to tackle your team's offensive and defensive systems, line-up, and volleyball IQ before focusing on another team's performance. A coach can choose to scout an opponent in order to create ideal match-ups when putting in their line-up or to identify serving zones in certain rotations, keeping the information for his/her own benefit. A coach can also choose to have the players watch opponents during the tournament and make scouting notes to share with the team in a pre-match meeting or huddle. However, a coach needs to be aware of whether or not your team is ready for this next step, so as to avoid overloading players with information. This can sometimes backfire, as players will overthink rather than play loosley and trust their training.

Here are three keys to scouting your opponents:

1. Know hitting tendencies of the attackers that play your same position

If you're charting an attacker, number the opponent's players in the rotation they're in and send a parent or assistant coach to watch the other team's hitters. When the attacker hits, draw a line from where they hit to where the ball goes. At the end of the line, draw a dot for a kill, a circle if the ball was kept in play and a minus for an error.

a. Where does the player hit and how does the player hit?

b. What does the player hit in serve receive and in transition?

c. How often does this player get set and who gets set in crunch time?

d. If this player is a setter, does the player attack, and if so, where?

i. Do we need to jump with this setter? 
ii. Does the setter reverse the flow all the time, some of the time, never? 
iii. If setter takes 1st ball, who sets 2nd ball and who does that player set?

2. How can you as a player score on this team?

a. Which blockers are weaker or smaller blockers?

b. Which defenders are weaker?

c. Where is the off blocker and can this player handle the ball well?

d. Where on the court is the off speed shot open?

3. How can your team put stress on the opponent?

a. Serve fast

b. Serve at the worst passers repeatedly

c. Serve or hit at the leftside hitters to force Out of System situations

d. Send off speed shots to zone 3 to take out the middle hitter in transition

e. Attack the setter as much as possible to force OOS

f. Serve at zone 1 to force the setter to take her eyes off her MH and set the pins

Since the goal of scouting is to stress your opponents and force them to make adjustments, be prepared for what those adjustments will be. And remember, at the end of the day, the number one priority is to focus first on your team's performance, and take care of the ball on your side of the net.

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About the JVA

The JVA is an association of Junior Club Directors and Coaches who are dedicated to all facets of junior volleyball and have a desire to offer the best programming possible to their members. We are the leaders and forward thinkers in Junior Volleyball Programs and we are a voice for junior clubs. Our number one goal is to help club programs and events thrive.