First, if you read this, like this, etc–hit the follow button. That’s helpful on my end of things…even lets me see who reads what and all that good stuff. Besides, you* know *you need to know when I’m doing a blog, right?

Second, always remember that me and technology…well, we’re not always on good terms. Writing this, I think I spent as much time trying to format the data below as I did writing the text. Since you can see it below, it remains in unwieldy format. If you don’t want to look at it, don’t–the writing will give you the conclusion. The spreadsheet stuff is there to show where I got everything. And now, off we go…

Actually, not quite. For some out there, I should disappoint you. The title is for amusement purposes–this isn’t about running down the street in your birthday suit. This is about scoring consecutive points.

I like reading stuff about other sports. With the way professional sports like baseball and basketball mine data in hopes of finding a 1% competitive edge (which is huge statistically speaking, by the way), I think it’s important to take those things and see if they can be applied to the sport I coach–volleyball.

One of those tidbits was from baseball and something called run-clumping. MLB results show that a team who puts together a single big outburst of runs is more likely to win a game than a team who scores more often but fewer runs at a time. Fair enough. Given the sequential progression of volleyball (one point scored after another, always one point at a time…), something like this should be capable of being duplicated.

First, the ‘live’ test. I went back and watched 45 sets of the team I coach over the past three years. I picked specific matches where I felt the teams were reasonably competitively balanced–where the SO% for both programs would be close to equal.

In those 45 sets, the team putting together the longest streak won 44. Yikes. That looks like confirmation of the idea. So the next step–I’m going to chart everything from a back-and-forth 5-set match we played at 2016 Nationals:

SET 1: 21-25. Our largest run was 3-points, our opponent’s was 4. Both teams scored multiple points with the ball seven times.

SET 2: 22-25. Our best three runs: 4-3-3. Their best three: 4-4-3. We scored multiple points six times, they did eight.

SET 3: 26-24 . Our best runs 3-3-3, their best 3-2-2. A lot of ugly volleyball. A lot–unless you like net serves and ball-handling errors…in which case, THIS is the set for you!

SET 4: 25-20. We have a 5-pt and 4-pt streak. They manage two 3-pt streaks…things really start rolling for us the last quarter of the set.

SET 5: 15-10. Our top runs go 5-3-2. Theirs are 3-2-1.

But even then, a single match–it’s too small of a sample size to prove anything, so I spent some time trying to figure out how to do two perfectly balanced teams, both with a 50% chance of scoring on a given play. It dawned on me–that was a coin-toss and the internet offers apps that will do tosses for you, so I went in and did coin toss after toss until either heads or tails reached 25 (or won by two). Those are the results in the unwieldy spreadsheet below. What happened with those random games?

Gm 1: 25-23, same point-streak for both, the winning team put together one extra streak

Gm 2: 25-23, the exact same thing

Gm 3: 25-20, winners with a 6-point streak. The losers had a 4-pointer.

Gm 4: 25-23. Winners had a 6-point streak, losers had two 4-pt ones.

Gm 5: 28-26. Winners with a 8-point streak, losers with a streak of 5 and 4.

Gm 6: 25-22. Both had 4-pt streaks, but the winner had two of them.

Gm 7: *23-25*. Winner had two 3-pt streaks, loser had a 4-pt streak.

Gm 8: 25-23. Winner had one 8-pt streak. Loser had 5 streaks of 3+ points.

Gm 9: 25-22. Winner with a streak of 6, loser with streak of 5.

Gm 10: 25-17. Both with streaks of 4. Losers only had two real streaks during the set, winner put together six 3+ point streaks.

Gm 11: 25-20, Winner streak of 5, loser streak of 3.

Gm 12: 25-19, winner with a streak of 6, loser with 6 2-pt runs.

Gm 13: 25-22. Winner with two streaks of 4, loser with four streaks of 3. Winner with 7 streaks of 3+, losers with 8 streaks of 3+.

Gm 14: 25-23. Winner with a streak of 6, loser with two streaks of 5.

Gm 15: 25-15. Streak of 8 vs. streak of 4.

So–out of 15 runs of coin tosses, basically the team who put together the best run won 14 of 15 sets. To me, that suggests the sampling I did that got 44/45 isn’t too far off (we could translate the 14/15 as 42/45 if you need to).

The thing is, statistics should be able to tell us something, whether it is to make in-game, immediate adjustments, to determine what to work on during training, or in shaping your team/coaching philosophy. Thus, these numbers should hint at something to improve a team.

For me, the numbers tell me that it’s really okay to whiff on your first serve if you are being aggressive. Going through a rotation without scoring isn’t going to hurt you tremendously, what you need to do is get a roll started–thus, the aggressiveness.

If there’s a point where the old saw of ‘just serve in’ may make a difference–it’s after you’ve scored three points in a row–* scoring 4 points in a row certainly looks to be a big deal*. In 43 of the 45 LLCC sets I watched, the winning team had a run of 4+ points (not including the 5-set match described separately). In that five-set match, 4 of 5 sets, the winner had a run of 4+points (and the other was just a comedy of serve errors and BHE). In 14 of the 15 coin-toss sets, the winning team had a run of at least 4.

* * *

By the way, if you like this–and because authors need people reading their stuff, consider picking up one of the volleyball books I’ve written. It’s a collection of 27 essays meant to make you think about coaching (even if it isn’t volleyball)! Just as important–the Kindle version is like five bucks:

Like Heck She Isn’t a Volleyball Player

THE COIN-TOSS SETS:

AWAY | 2 | 2 | 1 | 2 | 2 | 1 | 1 | 3 | 3 | 2 | 1 | 1 | 1 | 1 | 23 | 2 streaks of 3 | 2x 3+ | |||

HOME | 2 | 1 | 1 | 3 | 1 | 3 | 3 | 1 | 1 | 2 | 1 | 2 | 2 | 2 | 25 | 3 streaks of 3 | 3x 3+ | |||

AWAY | 1 | 2 | 1 | 2 | 1 | 6 | 2 | 1 | 1 | 2 | 4 | 2 | 25 | streak of 6 | 2x 3+ | |||||

HOME | 2 | 1 | 3 | 1 | 4 | 1 | 1 | 2 | 1 | 3 | 1 | 20 | streak of 4 | 3x 3+ | ||||||

AWAY | 0 | 1 | 3 | 1 | 3 | 3 | 2 | 2 | 4 | 4 | 23 | 2 streaks of 4 | 5x 3+ | |||||||

HOME | 6 | 2 | 2 | 1 | 1 | 1 | 2 | 4 | 3 | 3 | 25 | streak of 6 | 4x 3+ | |||||||

AWAY | 2 | 5 | 2 | 1 | 4 | 3 | 1 | 1 | 4 | 1 | 1 | 1 | 26 | streak of 5 | 4x 3+ | |||||

HOME | 1 | 1 | 1 | 5 | 8 | 1 | 1 | 1 | 2 | 3 | 1 | 3 | 28 | streak of 8 | 4x 3+ | |||||

AWAY | 0 | 1 | 2 | 2 | 1 | 4 | 1 | 4 | 3 | 1 | 2 | 1 | 3 | 25 | 2 streaks of 4 | 4x 3+ | ||||

HOME | 1 | 1 | 1 | 2 | 2 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 1 | 2 | 1 | 2 | 22 | streak of 4 | 2x 3+ | |||||

AWAY | 0 | 2 | 1 | 3 | 1 | 1 | 2 | 3 | 1 | 2 | 1 | 2 | 2 | 1 | 3 | 25 | 2 streaks of 3 | 3x 3+ | ||

HOME | 2 | 1 | 1 | 2 | 1 | 1 | 4 | 2 | 3 | 2 | 1 | 2 | 1 | 1 | 23 | streak of 4 | 2x 3+ | |||

AWAY | 0 | 1 | 1 | 1 | 3 | 1 | 2 | 3 | 1 | 4 | 1 | 2 | 3 | 23 | streak of 4 | 4x 3+ | ||||

HOME | 1 | 1 | 2 | 8 | 2 | 2 | 1 | 2 | 2 | 1 | 1 | 1 | 1 | 25 | streak of 8 | 1x 3+ | ||||

AWAY | 0 | 2 | 1 | 1 | 1 | 1 | 1 | 2 | 5 | 2 | 3 | 3 | 22 | streak of 5 | 3x 3+ | |||||

HOME | 4 | 1 | 2 | 1 | 3 | 1 | 1 | 1 | 1 | 1 | 6 | 3 | 25 | streak of 6 | 4x 3+ | |||||

AWAY | 2 | 1 | 1 | 1 | 1 | 1 | 1 | 2 | 2 | 4 | 1 | 17 | streak of 4 | 1x 3+ | ||||||

HOME | 2 | 4 | 2 | 4 | 1 | 3 | 2 | 3 | 2 | 1 | 1 | 25 | 2 streaks of 4 | 4x 3+ | ||||||

AWAY | 0 | 1 | 1 | 3 | 1 | 1 | 1 | 2 | 1 | 2 | 2 | 1 | 2 | 2 | 20 | streak of 3 | 1x 3+ | |||

HOME | 1 | 1 | 3 | 1 | 1 | 1 | 1 | 2 | 3 | 1 | 1 | 1 | 3 | 5 | 25 | streak of 5 | 4x 3+ | |||

AWAY | 1 | 2 | 1 | 1 | 1 | 1 | 7 | 3 | 2 | 2 | 1 | 1 | 1 | 1 | 25 | streak of 7 | 2x 3+ | |||

HOME | 1 | 2 | 2 | 1 | 2 | 1 | 2 | 1 | 1 | 1 | 2 | 2 | 1 | 19 | 6 streaks of 2 | none | ||||

AWAY | 0 | 2 | 4 | 3 | 2 | 3 | 1 | 4 | 3 | 1 | 1 | 1 | 25 | 2 streaks of 4 | 5x 3+ | |||||

HOME | 1 | 3 | 3 | 2 | 2 | 3 | 1 | 1 | 2 | 3 | 1 | 22 | 4 streaks of 3 | 4x 3+ | ||||||

AWAY | 3 | 3 | 1 | 2 | 1 | 1 | 2 | 6 | 1 | 5 | 25 | streak of 6 | 4x 3+ | |||||||

HOME | 1 | 1 | 5 | 2 | 2 | 1 | 1 | 5 | 1 | 4 | 23 | 2 streaks of 5 | 3x 3+ | |||||||

AWAY | 0 | 8 | 3 | 2 | 2 | 3 | 2 | 3 | 2 | 25 | streak of 8 | 4x 3+ | ||||||||

HOME | 3 | 1 | 1 | 2 | 1 | 4 | 2 | 1 | 15 | streak of 4 | 2x 3+ |