Short characterization JPN








WCH 2002






OG 2004



ARAKI, Erika  (C)


INOUE, Kaori

WCH 2006



KANO, Maiko


SANO, Yuko  (L)

OG 2008






WCH 2010





EBATA, Yukiko

OG 2012






The Japanese team has had an average age of 27,6 years. The age range is widespread reaching from 21/22 to 33/34 years (5 players are at the age of 30 or older). The team is very experienced in international events (10 players played in two World Championships, 3 players already had played in one or even two Olympic games before - the first setter No 3 Kimura and the top-scorer No 18 Kimura). With an average body height of 176 cm (without the libero) and a total of 3 players being smaller than 160 cm the Japanese team was the smallest among the TOP 8. JPN played with a relatively stable first line-up, but all players of the team were used in the course of the tournament with differing playing time (tactical substitutions). 

Taking the limited physical-conditional conditions for an effective block and attack play into account (first line-up with an average body height of 174 cm) the success of the bronze medal winning team again was based on the traditionally strong features as field defense and technical variability in the attacks including many different combinations. The perfect combination of teamwork, never ending fighting spirit and extraordinary playing ability (quick movement play, technical variability) found its impressive expression especially in long rallies.

JPN played in the „easier“ pool (against ALG 3:0, DOM 3:0, GBR 3:0) and qualified as the team ranking third without any problem for the quarter-final. But it lost relatively clear 1:3 against RUS and ITA. In one of the most dramatic matches of the Olympic tournament (3:2 against CHN, 2:25 h) the 2012 World Championship bronze medal team qualified for the semi-final. In the semi-final the team could not match the powerful play of Brazil especially in the blocking actions (1:14 kills, 0,3 : 4,7 average by set). In the match for the bronze medal the team was really superior to the Korean team with better performances both in serve reception and defense (71:62% + resp. 18:14 average by set) as well as with a more efficient attack play (53:38 attacking points).


Complex I – Attack (first ball side out)

The stable team performance in serve reception (rank 4 / 71% exc.) was the presupposition for the arrangement of the attacks with many combinations. The libero had a special impact, as she was very agile and played with high precision. And she showed a broad range of actions (decreasing the pressure for the players on the neighbor positions) which made an optimal inclusion of back court attacks possible. In situation with the setter back 2-3 different combinations are applied, in setter at the net situations the team applied 1-2 variants.

When analyzing the selected video clips for the different rotations we especially recommend to focus on the variable integration of the backcourt attacks and the setting outside the signaled combinations (under arm set, inclusion of other players). Extremely interesting for the Japanese playing style in attacking combinations/tempo also is aspect of  “overload and spread” (overload: 2 players very close together, for example “pipe”, relay/double quick; spread: spread attacking positions - for example one leg attacks behind the setter / spike P4 and backcourt P6). One striking and typical variant of the Japanese attacks is the combination of two quick attackers behind the setter combined with a speedy outside attack from P4.

There is a trend in the set distribution to use the outside attackers and the backcourt attacker.


Complex II – Block

With respect to the team performance in general JPN only ranks 8th (41 kills / average set 1, 46; compared to USA/BRA: 86/90 kills - 3,2/2,8 average by set). The blocking technique is not really an offensive one which would aim at kills, but it is a more “passive” one (gain action height, absorption of attacking power, orientation for defense - covering the block). De-pending on the situation different blocks can be applied. Such as special blocking tactics in situations with the setter at the net (setter moves back to cover the block). The whole team-work and the flexible style of playing in the cooperation between block and defense play are characterized by the extraordinary movement at the net (step arrangement) and in defense actions (reaction speed, turningmovements) as well as by technical perfection and variability (even under time pressure).


Complex II – Attack (transition)

An efficient field defense has been the presupposition or transition attacks with impact. Japan performed on the top of all teams (rank 1 in team ranking; 17, 3 average by set) with a big distance to the next teams in the TOP 4 (BRA/USA/KOR: 12,2 -12,7).

The typical playing sequences (touch and no blocktouch - defense - counter attack) display in an impressive way the frictionless function of the system as a whole.

The covering of the attacks (players close together and with all players ready to be incorporated) and blockcovering (organization and individual adaptation of the positions) belong to the impressive features of the Japanese play. Good performance in the covering tasks have played a key role (in the play: take out) enabling the team to open the “transition play” and to start long rallies which are a success factor in Asian playing style.

In freeball situations as well as in general attacks from outside positions dominate. The clever and effective incorporation of backcourt attacks into transitionplay following defense situations is interesting to notice in Japan‘s (but also Korea’s: take out) attacks.