German Bundesliga Technical Review

Seeing as I am already on holidays (here, it just says we are kicked out of the league), I have had a chance to reflect on the overall league here in Germany.  The first two things that come to mind when I’m thinking about the technical level of the league are reception and errors.

The level of service reception throughout the league is clearly a level below that of other leagues in the region.  Virtually every team has at least one receiver that was an obvious weakness especially against float serves, and as the season progressed teams served fewer and fewer jump serves and more and more float serves.  Individually many players had difficulty choosing between overhead and underarm reception, suggesting they were often in poor position before the serve, and many receivers moved around a lot before the serve, to no discernible effect other than further impacting their ability to receive.  Apart from individual technique, team reception tactics were variable and often ineffective.  Most teams attempted to receive float serves with some variation of two receivers in order to hide the weakest link but the better servers were nearly always able to force at least a poor reception from a lineup like that.  We had a lot of success using a 3 man reception pattern, based on the US men’s tactics, at all times.  The positioning of the players made it virtually impossible to attack spaces with the float serve and even without exceptional individual receivers we were able to optimise our possibilities.

The second most noticeable trend was simply the number of ridiculous errors that occurred, especially in attack.  Several teams had the overall strategy to be aggressive at all costs.  This led to a large number of completely unnecessary errors, eg bad sets that were just belted into the net or out of court, and many, many sets were decided by attack errors.  Interestingly, the most ‘aggressive’ team made relatively few direct errors.  The setter always played fast and aggressively, but the spikers never forced an attack in a bad situation.  They either tipped (and often won the point directly) or used the block to keep the ball alive (normally to their advantage).  The lesson is, as always, that neither all out aggression nor simple error reduction leads to success.

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