NCAA Coaches Get More Subs

By Staff

Coaching Management, 13.11, November 2005,

Thanks to some off-season work by the NCAA Volleyball Rules Committee, coaches this year were allowed to increase their number of substitutions per game from 12 to 15. While it’s been a topic of discussion among coaches for years, Suzie Fritz, Rules Committee Chair and Head Coach at Kansas State University, says the committee voted overwhelmingly in favor of the change.

“The issue is brought up to the rules committee every year,” says Fritz. “Some would like to see the rule fall in line with international volleyball, which has only six substitutions. Others would like to see no limit at all, like in NAIA volleyball. There is supporting rationale for both sides, but when it came right down to it, this is what most of the coaches wanted, and we like to follow their recommendations.”

The biggest difference coaches saw this season was the more frequent use of a 6-2 offensive formation. “With the availability of the added substitutions,” says Cathy George, Head Coach at Michigan State University, “you can basically go through an entire match using a 6-2 offense. Previously you might have been able to get through only two or three rotations of it depending on where you needed to sub.

“Before, I’d have to leave my front row players in the back row except for the sub,” George explains. “Now I have the ability to run the 6-2 and make front row and back row substitutions throughout the match, rather than having to choose.”

Fritz says coaches are definitely using the additional substitutions to play different offensive systems, but she also notes that some coaches don’t see that change as a positive. “We’ve heard that this won’t allow coaches to create ‘complete’ volleyball players,” she says. “If you’re a team that specializes, having more subs allows you to utilize specific personnel that are good at specific roles.”

“In the long run, players may not be as well rounded,” George admits. “But I think that will be largely based upon how a coach goes about training his or her athletes.”

Fritz says the only other complaint she’s heard is of games slowing down due to more substitutions. “But the officials are getting the subs in and out pretty fast, so I’m not seeing a disruption,” she says.