Offensive pass tactics analysis of volleyball setters in olympic finals of 2000 and 2021


  • Raini Stamm Institute of Health Sciences and Sport, Tallinn University
  • Meelis Stamm Headquarters of Estonian Defence Forces, Tallinn
  • Sergei Ovtšinnikov School of Natural Sciences and Health, Tallinn University, Tallinn
  • Reeda Tuula-Fjodorov School of Natural Sciences and Health, Tallinn University, Tallinn



volleyball, setter, setting speed, high level, men


The aim of the current study was to analyse offensive pass tactics in Olympic Games finals in 2000 and 2021. The authors of the study were interested how the game of volleyball has developed in 20 years, whether it has become faster or even slower. We were also interested whether setters’ game tactics had changed in 20 years. Therefore, we undertook three tasks: to compare offensive pass tactics according to types of sets; to compare the distribution of offensive passes between zones and to compare the ball flight phase times of offensive passes. Based on videos of two Olympic finals (eight sets), a total of 327 offensive passes were analysed, which were divided into different types of sets, and the ball flight phase time of each offensive pass was fixed. It was also taken into account whether the setter had had an excellent, good or bad reception or first touch before performing the set. The videos were analysed using the Kinovea program; the quality of the first video was 360p and of the second 1080p. The first final studied was played in Sydney, Australia, on 1 October 2000 between the men’s volleyball teams of Yugoslavia and Russia, and the second on 7 August in Tokyo, Japan, between the men’s teams of France and Russia.

To find statistically significant differences in data, Student’s t-test, p < 0.05, was used. The results revealed that in 20 years setters’ offensive pass tactics had changed; new offensive pass types had been introduced in both back and front zones. As a result of comparison of mean times of ball flight phases, the authors state that in one case the flight phase speed increased, namely in the case of offensive pass into zone 4; in another case, it became slower – in the case of offensive pass tempo forward. In addition to offensive passes played in 2000, new types of offensive pass were played in 2021, such as back line set between zones 6 and 1, back line set between zones 5 and 6, and the shoot set. The tandem combination played in 2000 was not performed once in 2021. The five most popular offensive passes turned out to be sharp sets into zone 4, sharp sets into zone 2, tempo sets forward, sharp back line sets into zone 2, high sets into zone 4. The difference of 2021 compared to 2000 was that the shoot combination was played on the frontline (6% of all the sets), and the back line attack was used 5% more often. The comparison of ball flight phase times revealed that the mean time of the flight phase decreased only in the case of the sharp set into zone 4. Namely, the mean time of the ball flight phase in 2000 was 1.12 seconds, in 2021, however, 0.97 seconds. This can be explained by sharper and faster sets into zone 4. But in the case of the tempo set forward, the mean time of the ball flight phase increased from 0.40 to 0.49 seconds by 2021. The authors’ explanation is that tempo sets were not hit from so near to the setter but, to make blocking more difficult, tempo sets were set longer, or somewhat higher tempo set was used. A statistically significant difference between the two finals was found in the case of sharp set into zone 4 and tempo set forward.


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