I am a big believer in looking at things from different perspective. Looking from a different perspective can have a few different meanings. Analysing statistics is a way of viewing a match from a different, emotionless, perspective. Reading about other sports can allow one to view his own sport in a different perspective. Considering something from the point of view of another is obviously a different perspective. And, as I have written before, literally standing in a different place is a different perspective.
In the first part of the story (linked above), a side view of a game enabled me to understand an opponent in a different way and helped to develop tactics to beat that opponent. Yesterday at practice I was watching the setter set and noting when he prepared to set behind his hands were in a completely different position that when he prepared to set forwards. For some reason, I decided to actually stand where the middle blocker stands and watch from there to tell how big the difference really was. To my surprise, what was a massive difference on one side of the net, was barely noticeable to the observing middle blocker (in this case, me). The margins seem to be a lot bigger than you think and that is before taking into account that the middle blocker has a lot more time stress and every other type of stress to fight against while he is watching the setter.
It reminded me of a couple of stories about setters’ tips. I used to get upset about defenders not reading the second ball set over the net that is becoming more popular (from setters like Zagumny). It seemed so obvious and frankly, it felt embarrassing to lose a point in that way. That was until by accident I happened to be standing near position 5 when a setter did it. What is really clear from the sideview, is not at all clear from the defender’s point of view, especially if the timing is good. The hand position is almost exactly the same as normal and the horizontal flight path of the ball is almost exactly the same as a first tempo set. The time it takes for the defender to determine that the ball is actually crossing the net is small, but often long enough to win the point. The same goes for the traditional left handed tip. I have been around plenty of coaches who screamed at the setter to keep both hands up and screamed even more at the defender who didn’t see that the left hand was clearly higher and there was no chance he would do anything other than tip. On the ‘standing in position 5’ test, you can see that the differences are much smaller than the side view and again, if the timing is good, there only has to be the slightest hesitation to get the point.
The morals of the story/ies are clear. What you see is NOT what your players see.
And in volleyball, as in life, everything is timing.
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