Attack Coverage in High-Level Men’s Volleyball: Organization on the Edge of Chaos?

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Lorenzo Laporta, Pantelis Nikolaidis, Luke Thomas, Jose Afonso

Change is pervasive, but emerging patterns are occasionally detectable through analysis of systemic behaviors. Match analysis uses these patterns in order to reduce the degree of improvisation and to optimize the training process. However, it is possible that certain game phases elude systematic patterning. In this vein, our aim was to analyze the case of attack coverage in men’s volleyball, as we suspected it would elude systematic patterning and has received negligible attention in scientific research. We analyzed the occurrence of attack coverage in 4544 plays of the 2011 Volleyball World League. A Chi-square test with residual adjusted values was applied to explore significant associations between variables. A Monte Carlo correction was applied, as some cells had n<5. Effect sizes were determined using Cramer’s V. Overall, attack coverage occurred in 3.89% of ball possessions, and 23 distinct structures emerged. These structures lacked significant associations with the game complex, setting zone, and effect of attack coverage. Conversely, attack coverage structures showed significant associations with the attack zone and tempo, with very strong effect sizes (V=0.472 and V=0.521, respectively). As certain attack zones are deeply associated with attack tempo, it is apparent that quicker attack plays affect attack coverage structuring, promoting the formation of less complex structures. Ultimately, attack coverage structures seem to depend on momentary constraints, thereby rendering rigid systematization impracticable. Still, we contended that a principle-based approach might be suitable. This invites researchers to rethink how to interpret game regularities.
DOI: 10.1515/hukin-2015-0080
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