Short characterization: JAPAN

I Team formation

·       With an average age of 25.9 years and an average body height of 176 cm JPN was the oldest and the smallest team of the WGP 2005 final round.

·       Only 4 players left from Olympic team 2004; only one out of 4 new players (born in 1982 or later) in the regular formation (player No. 14).

II General impression

·       Although JPN was missing young tall players (rehabilitation after injury), JPN was very competitive in many phases of the game.

·       The problem of missing tall outside hitters has to be solved in order to keep up with the world’s top in future and/or to compete there (at least one of the tall, young players having played in the last couple of years at international level will join the team and be playing for the team at the World Championship next year).

·       5th place is just right at current level of performance. If the desired reinforcement will be realised, then JPN - at the WC with home advantage and the known committed and varied play with much movement intensity - will be able to rank among the six best teams.

III Team composition and characteristic of play

·       Excellent play in defence and in quick combination attack. Testing a new line-up seemed to work well.

·       JPN is a defensive team with physical constitutional disadvantage, which they are trying to offset with mentally tough teamwork/team spirit (working hard with lots of spirit). However some of players are not really strong under pressure.
Extremely fast offence
with variety of offensive combinations (fast offence from good passing, fast transition from good digging) no one else can.

IV Technical impression

Complex I

Passing:

·       Good technique on passing. 3-player formation against jump power; against float service, passing mostly with 2-player formation (in special circumstances 3-player formation).

·       Large range of action of libero when passing floats with 2-player formation; normal incorporation into the 3-player formation against jump serves (takes over reception at interfaces).

Setting:

·       JPN’s starting setter (player No. 3) is absolutely one of best setters in the world, is just very small.

·       Very quick and very dynamic setting style; spatial orientation is good.

·       The Japanese setter – comparable with the Italian setter – has excellent ball control with great movement

Attacking side out:

·       Fast outside attack with good line shot after precise reception; block players very active with first tempo attacks in front of and behind setter; integration of back court attacks through P1/6.

·       Great wrist shots, block-out, wipe-off.

·       Player No. 5 had a great tournament with regards to her offensive performance, (best scorer with 90 points in attack), but is in the end not able to compensate for her physical-constitutional limits in the offensive play.

Complex II

Serving:

·       Good jump top spin; good float serve (distance or from backline from different positions) as well.

·       Good attempts with aggressive jump serves (WC 2003) have not been developed by the current team.

Blocking:

·       Blocking has improved (players No. 7, 9, 12 among the top-10 in individual ranking), but still a weakness of the Japanese team.

·       Special solutions of tactical adaptation such as switch block, drop block etc. to compensate their height, similar solutions as ITA: switch block - setter blocks at left front or middle; drop block - setter does not block against their high ball attack. Selective use of triple block.

 Digging:

·       Very good individual skills, including good defensive technique and tactical adaptation (effective performances and effective transition)

·       Libero and the whole team - with lots of energy and fighting spirit

·       Defensive play with 6 back as basic principle; altogether very variable tactical adaptation (e.g. short distance covering by P1/P5 and/or without direct covering; normal position defence / reinforcement of main hitting direction, special  integration of the setter, quite often into triple block P3 - 3 player defence formation moves far forward).

·       Effective digging actions on the basis of speed, flexibility and reactions of the Japanese players.

·       CHN & JPN, both Asian teams are better than anybody else.

Attacking transition:

·       If possible very quick transition attack.

·       Lots of spikes at outside position 4 (after precise defence distribution of sets to P4 and P2 (medium to fast tempo); variation of attack positions when set to P4 (outside / inside).

·       Lower chances and/or much effort to score points after long rallies caused by physical and constitutional handicaps.