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What is the Best Statistic for Volleyball Passers?

For passing stats, keep it simple.

A simple web search will give you a large number of different ways to calculate how good a volleyball passer is. The most popular passing statistics provide an average pass score for each serve receiver.

Average Passing Grade (4 Point Scale)

In some of these ratios, a perfect pass is worth 4 points, a good pass is worth 3 points, a medium pass is worth 2 points, a poor pass is worth 1 point, and an ace is worth zero points. Add those numbers together, divide by the total amount of pass attempts, and you an average passing grade.

Average Passing Grade (3 Point Scale)

Perhaps more commonly used is a slightly more watered-down version of the passing scale, with a perfect pass being worth 3 points, a good pass worth 2 points, a poor pass worth 1 point, and an ace worth zero points. Once again, divide the total amount of passes to determine the passing grade.

If you start talking to college volleyball coaches about passing stats, you’ll get an even larger variety of ways to track a passer’s productivity, all of which get more and more detailed.

The potential problems associated with tracking these statistics are two-fold. First, they are oftentimes difficult to consistently keep, especially in real-time. A statistician must be able to determine (and then remember) the correct grade for each pass, while also focusing on other aspects of the match going on immediately after the first contact. Secondly, these numbers could be confusing the young players that are on the court. Players will know that a higher passing average is better than a lower passing average, but it’s more tricky to understand the exact difference between a 2.05 passing average compared to a 1.95 passing average.

Good Pass Percentage

There is one very simple volleyball passing stat, that despite its lack of in-depth calculations, will tell you everything you need to know how good a passer is in comparison to her peers.

“This really simple stat captures all the complexities of passing.”

– Chris McGown

Just like it sounds, this stat is nothing more than the total percentage of a player’s passes that are “good.” For the purposes of this stat, a “perfect” pass would also be considered “good.”

For example, if a player passes 10 balls, and 6 of the passes are good (or perfect), that player’s good pass percentage would be 60%.

It might be tempting to toss the value of this statistic aside, knowing that it doesn’t combine the same intricate amount of details that some other passing stats do. But to illustrate that a good pass percentage stat correlates perfectly with more complex stats, let’s look at the passing stats from three volleyball programs over the past handful of years.

Notice as you look at these stats from international volleyball, NCAA college volleyball, and high school volleyball teams, that the correlation between passing average ranks and good pass percentage ranks are almost exact. The only variance occurs when there is an extremely minuscule difference in the raw data.

USA Women’s National Team

(Statistics from VolleyMetrics)

USA Women's National Team, 2016 & 2021 Olympics
YearPlayerPass AttemptsPassing Average (3 Point Scale)Passing Average RankGood Pass %Good Pass % Rank
2021Wong Orantes1372.63174.51

University of Washington

(Statistics from VolleyMetrics)

University of Washington, 2019-2021
YearPlayerPass AttemptsPassing Average (3 Point Scale)Passing Average RankGood Pass %Good Pass % Rank
2020Player C2602.34163.51
2021Player C5272.32261.73
2021Player A6132.29362.22
2019Player A6942.23456.65
2019Player D3002.23555.76
2021Plyer D3362.19657.44
2020Player B5622.17752.97
2021Player B5652.13850.18
2019Player B5622.05947.110
2019Player C4972.021046.111
2019Player E2702.011147.49
2020Player A88321244.412
2019Player F1181.981344.113
2020Player D421.551423.814
2021Player F711.621549.315
2019Player D2051.611648.816
2021Player E1231.461747.217

Mountain View High School

(Statistics from HUDL)

YearPlayerPass AttemptsPassing Average (3 Point Scale)Passing Average RankGood Pass %Good Pass % Rank
2020Player A6372.00167.81
2021Player C3471.92267.72
2019Player B5091.90363.94
2020Player B3221.89464.63
2019Player A5211.85562.85
2021Player B4121.85662.67
2021Player D3361.84762.86
2020Player C2561.80857.89
2020Player D2221.74956.810
2021Player A5591.731058.18
2019Player C3301.721156.111
2020Player E2041.711251.514
2020Player F1661.701354.813
2020Player G1531.691455.612
2021Player F711.621549.315
2019Player D2051.611648.816
2021Player E1231.461747.217
back to where we started… For passing stats, keep it simple.

As a coach taking passing stats during practices and matches, and then sharing those statistics with your players, consider this simple stat to track your passers. Doing so will make your life easier and will help your players more easily understand how well they are performing as a passer.

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