Short characterization JAPAN





2000 - 2008


OG 2000






WCH 2002





INOUE, Kaori

WC 2003





SANO, Yuko (L)

OG 2004





ISHIDA, Mizuho

WCH 2006



ARAKI, Erika



WC 2007



EBATA, Yukiko


INO, Akiko

OG 2008




General remarks

·         After the 1978 World Championship (silver medal) and the 1984 Olympics (bronze medal) Japanese female volleyball returned to the international top level. Especially with the two finals (2:3 against BRA, 3:2 against the USA) the Japanese team performed on an extraordinary level presenting new „great moments of world volleyball“. It convincingly demonstrated the actual performance capacity of modern volleyball.

·         The Japanese team focused on attractive and successful block/defense play as a perfect combination of flexible, quick movements of the players, on a great variety of techniques full of nuances and adapted to the individual match situation, on never ending fighting spirit and consistent team work.

·         The team had a mixture of experienced players on the key positions (WCH 2006: 6, OG 2008: 5) and eight new players. The starting lineup was stable during the whole World tournament, the coaches worked with consequent short-term tactical substitutions (service, serve reception, block, attack, double substitution) especially during the final stage of sets, as the other teams in the tournament did. This was also an expression of the strength and the unity of Japan’s team.

·         The team had a mean age of 26.1 years, the average body height was 176 cm (without the libero); 4 players were below 170 cm, 3 below 160 cm!!



·         Almost only execution of varieties of the jump float from shifting positions (many variants of run-up arrangement, single- or double-legged jump-off) with tactical goals (6% aces / 7% faults); only one player is performing the jump spin power serve.

·         Very good skills in „treating” the ball, thus often creating powerful, effective flattering effects (No. 12 Kimura: 10% + / 7% -, 4th in individual ranking).



·         Formation with 3 players to receive jump spin power serve; calm and rational actions with clear distribution of responsibility between the players (the libero performs quick site-steps in frontal position behind the ball)..

·         Application of either a formation with 2 players, a 2+1 formation or a formation with 3 players to receive standing floats and jump floats: flowing transitions, variation between starting position with the receiving players far from each other or close to each other, often the libero is covering a wider section of the reception area.

·         Two players receive with an overhand pass.

·         Very good and stable reception by the team (4% -); in precision the team is 5-6 %-points behind the top performances (52/53% excellent). Great demand on the outside attacker Kimura (performing 50% of all receptions of the team, libero performs appr. 25%).


Set / Attack - Complex I and Complex II

·         Complex I: Very often quick attacking combinations are terminated from pos. 4 (spike P4, medium high setting – even diagonal to the net); very dynamic application of single-legged attacks behind the setter and quick attacks with run-up from outside towards pos. 2; in individual cases, but without similar success 1st tempo attacks in front of the setter; efficient integration of back court attacks (pos. 6 !).

·         Complex II: Outside attacks are dominating from pos. 4; often effective back court attacks are performed. In quick counter attacks without 1st tempo in front of the setter, but focusing on variable attacks with double-legged jump-off behind the setter (MB, opposite).

·         To compensate disadvantages in body physique (body height) the teams applies a great variety of attacking techniques (worth mentioning for example are hidden attack spike with lateral spin performed by no. 14 and 12). Summing up the performance in attacks JAP performs on the level of USA/ITA (42% + / 11% -). No player in the TOP 10; best player is no. 12 Kimura who performed 1/3 of all attacks of the Japanese team.

·         Extraordinary setting performance by major setter no. 3 Takeshita (2nd in individual ranking): Vigorous behavior as key player, extremely quick movement in combination with precise extremely variable setting actions from all body positions, perfect understanding with the attack players. Relatively often the underhand set is performed as basic technique.


Block / Defense            

·         Well arranged and adaptive block/field defense system.

·         Extraordinary movement actions close to the net and in defensive formations – flexible step combinations, changes of direction and speed.

·         Depending on the match situation application of all variants of blocks including blocks with 3 players; compensation of the disadvantages in body height by precise arran-gement of position and timing, no focus in blocking actions on block kills, special blocking tactics for pos. 2 without setter. 

·         Team performance is adequate to the average of the best 12 participating teams (17% + / 30% -); No. 4 Inoue finishes 5th in individual ranking (27% kills / 25% faults!).

·         Basic structure of field defense:

·         Pos. 6 backward, depending on the situation without or with guard for the area close to the block by field players on pos. 1 and pos. 5. In case of group block on pos. 3: Setter close to the net to cover the area close to the block, setter in back court – without coverage of the area close to the block.

·         Reinforcement of defense in diagonal attacks (double defense), the players in positions close to each other with quick reactions to support and guard attacks, flexible adaptation (2-3 / 3-2 / 2-2-1).

·         Extraordinary performance of the libero (2nd in individual ranking) with a wide range of actions: rational and efficient defense behavior based on perfect arrangement of action location and efficient, in the majority of cases double-armed defense techniques (special position 5 combined with great commitment in covering the block and the direction towards pos. 6. 1st (together with the USA) in team ranking).