Heat Map Analysis of 2014 World Championships

Visualizing a Gold Medal. A lot of things have to go right to win a World Championship. Training must be top-notch, players must stay healthy, and more than a couple lucky breaks have to go your way.

Scouting can also give you an advantage over your opponents.

I first developed the concept of using Heat Maps as a scouting tool for one simple reason: to give my teams a (small) advantage by being able to better visualize their defensive responsibilities. The feedback I got was immediate and positive, which inspired me to develop better technology in order to create these Heat Maps quickly and more efficiently. This technology later became VolleyMaps.

Since joining the Team USA staff, Heat Maps have become an important part of almost every scouting report. The Gold Medal match against China was no different. Below is a Heat Map that shows all the “Go” attacks from the left side of the court, from both teams.

china-usa

For those of you who watched that match, this image won’t be a surprise. You see a couple short tips, and a couple deep deflections, but most of the attacking was in the seam of the block toward the middle of the court, along with some sharper cross court attacks.

For China, this was done by their tall outside attackers hitting high over the block, and for USA, this was done with their fast-tempo offense created seams in the block that allowed them to attack down into the court. China’s attacks tended toward the back part of the dark-orange part of the map, while USA’s attacks tended toward the shallower portion.