Thursday, January 21, 2021

Tracking Volleyball Stats on Paper

When I started coaching, other people were responsible for stats. Either a kid, a parent, or a head coach I worked with that liked doing it themselves.

When I became a head coach, stats became something I had to do. I tried a few ways with other coaches, with varying degrees of success. Eventually I got a good assistant, but they didn't want to do stats. I decided to try to tackle this myself, and do less coaching and more watching. 

This is the process that worked well for me, and I've been able to teach a kid or parent to do this in a few minutes if I have someone else that will do it. I'll explain the process, and then some reasoning.

The Process

I've had 9 kids on a team over a few years, so this has worked out well for me. I think it works up to 12. Your mileage may vary, and I note that as I get older, making small marks on paper is challenging.

In Excel I build a sheet that divides paper into a few sections of graphs. These are essentially "T"s for each kid. I put 9 on a page, but I have gotten 12 if needed, going 4 across. My sheet looks like the image below. I am only showing the first 2 rows, but there's a third below.

I put each kid's name in a box, and I tend to order things as they are on the court. I put OHs on the left, MHs in the center and the L in the bottom middle. My RH/S go on the right. If I have subs, I'd likely put them on the far right, and then hope muscle memory reminds me of where they are located. 

I often use a new sheet for each match, but at times I'll do a second match on the same sheet. I can usually use a second line for each stat to differentiate sets.

The grid is divided into four sections, clockwise from the upper left I have "Serve" , "Serve receive", "Digs", and "Attacks". While I record data in these in a similar fashion, each is slightly different.


  • Attempts - I, or vertical line
  • Ace - A
  • Error (ball not in play, service error, etc.) - E
  • end of service round - comma

This gets me something like these examples:

  • |||, - 3 attempts,  we get the sideout twice before losing a point.
  • |A||E,E - first service round with serve in, then ace, then two serves in (4 points) and an error. Second service round, just an error (bad serve)

When a girl goes back to serve, I make the vertical line and keep the pencil or my finger on  that spot. That lets me know I've marked the serve. If it's an A or E, I just add to the line to turn it into the letter.

 Serve Receive 

  • 0, 1, 2, 3 - pass rating

This is the simplest item. When someone passes a serve, I rate it as a 0, 1, 2, or 3. Everyone has their own style here, but once reason I like doing the stats is the consistency for SR (serve receive).

  • 0 - shank, or a bad pass that isn't really playable.
  • 1- a pass that the setter barely gets up, with one option. Or someone else sets
  • 2 - the setter makes minimal movement, and can easily set 2 front row hitters
  • 3 - all three front row hitters, the back row, and time to decide.
  • | - dig
  • E - dig error
For digs, I record someone was able to get an attack ball up and make it playable or not. You may use your own judgment on what's playable.

  • | - attack attempt, ball kept in play by opponent
  • K - kill
  • E - attack error (long, in net, touch net, etc.)

I try to avoid using the attempt for bumps over, especially with bad sets. If it's a kill on bump, I sometimes mark this as a K with an underline. For tips, I usually mark as a K with a line across the top. This is mostly for between set/match quick review. Are kids swinging?\


  • B (under attack section) - ball blocked back to attacking side
  • B circled - ball blocked back for point
 We don't see a lot of block stats, so I've just captured these. I haven't worried about block errors, but if I cared, I'd likely use "BE". I like capturing block backs because the kids are proud.

Generating Stats

Usually after a tournament, I go get some dinner. It's a good way to decompress from the day, and often I have a coach with me. We can talk about the day, re-live some highlights (or lowlights) and compile stats. While an iPad and app does this automatically, I find this isn't too hard or time consuming to do manually.

Here's my process. I put the sheets that correspond to a match together, and I'll do a match at a time. I go through each athelete's stats, writing down the totals. Usually I can mentally add up the values across 2-3 sheets and get them down on one sheet. I'll go through the process for each quadrant, but I typically do all 4 stats for each kid before moving to the next.

  • Count every entry (|, A, E) total these up.
  • Count all aces, total up
  • Count all errors, total up
This gives me something like 10 / 3 / 1 - 10 attempts, 3 of which were aces. 1 error. The service percentage here is 90% ( (10-1)/10)

Serve Receive
  • Add up all the numbers, this is attempts
  • Add up the sum of the numbers, this is the total for calculating percentage.
  • Add up the zero passes. A good metric to keep.

For this entry (3,2,2,1,0,3,1), I would have this line under the athlete: 7 / 12 / 1. The percentage is 12/7, which is a 1.7 pass rating. They shanked 1 of 7 passes. Not too bad for the level I coach.

This is easy. Add up the | entries and add up the E entries. I report these are straight sums.


I add up all items here, just as in serve. These are all the attempts. Next, I add up kills. Next, errors. This gives me three numbers again. 

As an example, if I had ||K||E||K, I'd have 9 / 2 / 1. Nine swings at a set, 2 kills, 1 error. The calculation for hitting is (2-1)/9. Kills-errors, divided by attempts. This is a 0.111 hitting percentage. Not great, but positive.

Usually I just write a B and then give the attempts and scoring blocks.

Data Entry

Once I have all the raw numbers, I type them into a spreadsheet. I keep a stat one around for each team, and I have a sample attached to this post. Each stat gets a sheet, so I have serve on 1, serve receive on a second, etc. I use a separate line for each day/opponent/kid. As an example, here's a serve example:

I can type the date, event, and opponent once and then copy paste down. I usually can copy paste the roster down, using 0s for kids that don't play. The right column, percentage, is calculated, so data entry is typing in a number, right arrow, a second, right arrow, the third, then down to the next kid. It's pretty fast, and I can do 9 kids x 4 opponents in the time it takes to get a drink and a salad eaten.
I can then repeat this for each of the five areas. If a coach is there, one can read and one type. This goes quickly.

Stats for Athletes and Parents
I add a new worksheet for each event. Typically I put this at the start of the Excel workbook, and move the last event to a spot after my 5 stat categories. I then copy the format from one of the other sheets. The layout looks like this:

Since I keep the kids' names in the same order, I can usually build a formula that adds up the 3-4 lines for each kid from the other sheet. For example, for Mary, her serve stats might be in the Serve worksheet in rows 120, 129, 138. This formula would be =+Serve!E120+Serve!E129+Serve!E138. I can just type "+" and then pick the three columns for her serve attempts. I can then copy this formula across to the next two cells (aces and errors) and the formula adjusts the column letter. 
If I always have the same girls, I can copy this down to fill out the stats for all girls. If someone doesn't have stats, rather than leaving a divide by zero error, I usually add a DNP (or DNS for did not serve) and erase the formulas.

This builds a summary sheet that coaches can look at, and still find details for stats across girls. Parents and girls can easily look at this.

Parent Questions

I typically don't take parent questions on stats. I tell them they should ask their daughter. If the athletes don't know the answer, they can ask me. This is as much about educating athletes as parents.

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