A total of 276.000 spectators experienced an extremely attractive mammoth tournament with 104 matches. Especially the matches of the host country Japan and the exciting final round matches (with up to 11.000 spectators) were a fascinating demonstration of modern female topvolleyball for women. The impressive level of the matches with an extremely high technical and tactical level of performance and the sustainable impressions of perfect teamwork and fighting spirit created a tremendous atmosphere.
In the course of a long selectionprocess starting with the four pools (35% of the matches ended 3:1 resp. 3:2) via two second round pools (53% of the matches ended 3:1 resp.3:2) until the finals the TOP 12 teams made their way in matches which became closer and closer (67% of the final round matches ended3:1 resp. 3:2).
Also inspired by the extraordinary performance of the Japanese team the international volleyball community experienced an extremely dramatic final round. The Russian team showed a convincing performance to defend its titles. This team, together with BRA and with only a small advantage ahead of JPN and the USA represent the international top in women's volleyball.
These four teams are followed by a big group of runners up which play on almost the same level. The best team of this group is ITA. The next teams on rank 6 and 7 are TUR (WCh 2006 ranking 10th) and GER (WCh 2006 rankling 11th) which could significantly improve their ranking compared to 2006. CHN (10th) and CUB (12th) which have belonged to the international top teams for many years will certainly enhance their efforts to return to international toppositions.
Teams that finished the tournament in the lower parts of the rankingtable did show a high playing culture and their improved level of performance in individual matches (e. g. CZE - BRA 2:3, CZE – ITA 3:2, DOM - TUR 2:3, KAZ - CUB 2:3).
The leading volleyball teams have a balanced, consistent formation of young and (to an increasing extend) older and experienced players in the starting line-up. Here especially the mean age of the libero has increased. Statistical data on bodyheight prove that the teams obviously prefer players of medium bodyheight compared to very tall players (especially taking the aspect of universal playing performance into consideration). Age structure (rank 1-6) 2006: Mean age 24,8 years; 2010: 26,2 years. Libero (rank 1-6) 2006: 24,9 years; 2010: 29,9 years. Bodyheight without libero (rank 1-6) 2006: 186 cm; 2010: 184,5 cm.
Summarizing our analyses on services, a strategy and tactics with an adaptation of the service to the opposing team becomes obvious. This is connected with very creative and rich in variations of techniques, varying servicepositions and the aspiration to reduce errors.
The analysis of the preferred servicetechniques (49 players of the starting line-up resp. of the substitution players specialized in services) gave proof of a significant change when comparing the results with the 2006 WCh: Jumpspin power - 31%:15%, Jumpfloat - 27%:65%, Float - 42%:20%.
Jumpservices almost exclusively are performed in a very controlled manner with a clear goal, often with differing spins. It is noteworthy that the dominating jumpfloats (mostly performed from position 1 or 5) are characterized by a big variety of approaches and take-offs.
The powerful jumpfloats turned out to be very successful. We found a varying distance to the ground line for the floats. The powerful distancefloats and floats following some quick run-up steps seem, to be the most successful techniques.
Servicetactics are very much directed towards the opposing outside hitter (limitation of possible attacks, errors caused by permanent pressure, avoiding libero actions).
On the background of recent ballistic studies of the flighttrajectory of the ball there is still room to create „dangerous trajectories“ by adequate technical variations. Independent of the the reduction of powerservices the mean number of points per set increased from 2,2 to 2,8 points taking the whole tournament into consideration.
In all team the 3-player or 2-player resp. 2+1-player formations dominated to receive jump- floats and floats, but with an easy adaptation to the actual match situation.
But also players who do not belong to these formations for the reception of the service have the technical skills to perform actions to receive the service at any point of the match. In accordance with the situation and the rotation the libero covers a wider section of actions, but they are also an integrated part of the receptionformation.
Caused by the dominating direction as part of servicetactics, attackplayers are very often part of the reception (e. g. USA: no 15 / no 11 with 77% of all actions, libero no 5 with 23% of the actions, RUS: no 5 with 42% of all actions., libero no 7 with 37% of all actions., JPN: no 12 50% of all actions, libero no 6 24%).
The good anticipation and fine-tuning of the position for the servicereception (for example by short, quick side-steps, the receiving player is in an optimum frontal position behind the ball resp. In a favorable position for the lateral servereception left or right. That allows them to perform efficiently.
The former trend of an increased number of servereceptions overhand is declining. It is applied by selected players with a very stable and precise technique.
The performance in servereception is on the same level as in the 2008 Olympics, but the general impression is that it has become even more stable (rank 1-6: only 4-6% faults).
Set/Attack - Complex I and Complex II
All teams ranking 1-6 play with extraordinary setters who act with a very effective and well balanced distribution of the sets. The very differentiated play of setting (standing and jumping techniques, varying trajectory, height of set, speed, distribution within a very small space and via long paths) is perfectly adapted to the individual performance profiles of the attack players.
In the mostly „linear“ attack combination the attackingpositions are to be found on the whole width of the net. The attacks are performed with differing speed and backcourtattacks are an integrated part of the attackingactions. The very differentiated distribution of the sets back-ward has become even more visible (intermediate positions, runningpaths of the quick attackers).
The one- leg attacks by the quick attackers (starting inside the field) and the quick attacks of the attackers/diagonal players with run-up from outside the field have been the basis for very attractive and efficient attacks on position 2.
1st tempo attacks in front of the setter have been applied in individual cases, and have been based on the extraordinary affinity of the setter towards the respective quick attacker. In case of quick sets towards position 4 we observed two major variations: medium speed / medium high resp. quick / low. Quick sets diagonal to the net from the attack line belong to the standardrepertoire.
In C II (final) attackcombination have not been prepared under „all circumstances“, but the teams preferred a controlled development of the attacks with long rallies to get into a real scoring chance.
Caused by many long rallies (more blockrebounds and more attacking situations with precise underhand setting) the structure of the counter-attacks has changed (more „covering-attacks”, less „freeball attacks”).
The „conservative“ diagonal set from the backcourt still plays an important role and is one of the basic techniques for all players. This also applies to the underhand set which is played with an increasing precision (integrated into the running direction, with whole body effort and a frontal or lateral position). The increasing precision of this settingtechnique opens up additional options for successful attacks.
Considering the arrangement of attacks the application of many hittingtechniques with variable power and dependent on the individual playsituation has become obvious (a mix consisting of powerattacks, half-speedattacks, tips, rotationattacks, cutshots, cross the body attacks). It is worth mentioning that to an increasing extend hittingtechniques with spin have been applied (especially by no. 12 and 14 of the Japanese team).
A variable inclusion of the attackers by a change of their function within the team between attacker and diagonalplayer and changed positions in the starting line-ups have been used by several teams as tactical means.
Block / Defense
The progressive development of international top volleyball finds its expression especially in the more attractive and more efficient arrangement of complex II (transition). As a consequence of the significantly more effective blocking actions the level of organization and functionality as well as of efficiency of block/field defense systems improved. That, again, resulted in more „fluent“, but especially quick transitions between defensive and offensive actions (expressed by a higher number of longer rallies, longer setduration).
To successfully arrange your blockingactions is not possible without an adaptation to the opposing team based on modern scouting information. The quality of blockactions (adaptations of position, timing, adherence, area of action above the net) is a reliable and important orientation feature for the successful arrangement of fielddefense.
In dependence of the opposing attackaction all three blockingactions are applied in an efficient manner (block with 2 players as standard, blocks with 3 players for the outside positions and against backcourt attacks from pos. 6). The increasing number of 1:1-situations in resp. against quick attacks on all positions are successfully met with partially very good blocks with only one player (adaptation of position, timing, active arm and handactions).
The quick attackcombinations and frequent long rallies represent an increased request towards flexible legwork of the blockplayers laterally to the left and right side (running steps closing step dominate, in addition you can see side steps, crosssteps, closing hopp/ single legged jump-off and combinations of running and jump-off techniques).
All teams play with the basic system „6 back with/without blockcoverage by the players on pos. 1 and 5 and a flexible adaptation to the actual attack situation (as for example double defense in the main spikingdirection). In most cases the attack is guarded in a very compact manner and with a variably staggered formation (3:2, 2:3, 2:2:1).
The actions of the libero focus on fielddefense with a broad actionrange of P5 (efficient position defense – especially against diagonal attacks, close coverage P4/P3 even with „fighting techniques“, disciplined application of all free balls and of „controlled and well managed“ overhead beachtechniques). In addition it has become obvious that the libero to a greater extend has been incorporated into the direct build-up of the attack (underhand setting).
There is a striking intention to apply double-arm standing defense techniques. The same techniques have been also applied when players already have been in a falling position.
The quick play with long rallies also represents highest requests towards the running and bodytechniques (quick, short steps, flexible stepcombinations, changes in movement/running direction, turns towards the playposition). There is no successful defense play on the basic of static and schematic behavior!
Summarizing our findings the teams have been most successful in fielddefense that independent of quickly changing and surprising matchsituations keep their well coordinated organization of the basicplay and could adapt it in a flexible manner.
After the World Championship 2006 the development of topvolleyball really has happened as it was expected: Successful volleyballteams combine the features of „athletic power volleyball“ with „play elements“ with the focus on speed and varying solutions. Therefore universally trained athletes with a high level of playing expertise who are highly skilled in offensive as well as in defensive techniques are needed who also represent an individual action and performance profile that matches these requests. We have experienced a World Championship of highest dynamics, vivid variety and progressive match and performance development. Also we experienced a well balanced framework of relation between „tactics – technique – anthropometric features and bodyphysique – physical performance factors – psychical-social features – rules and regulations“.
Berthold Fröhner and Rudi Schumann
FIVB Technical evaluators