I.P.E. is an acronym for In Play Efficiency. It is simply the opposite of hitting error percentage (IPE = 1 – error %). It’s putting a positive spin on hitting errors. Many coaches tell players, “Don’t make hitting errors”; this focuses on the negative. Instead, IPE focuses on the positive and encourages players to keep the ball in play. For example, Penn State’s Hitting Error % for 2008 was .126. This roughly equates to 1.3 hitting errors for every 10 attempts. The positive spin on Penn State’s error % or what we consider “IPE” is .874 (1 – 0.126). This means for every 10 attempts, 8.7 swings were in the court. IPE is a positive hitting goal for any team. A player can easily recognize an IPE goal of .900 or simply to keep 9 out of 10 attempts in play. An
attainable outcome goal a player can work towards.
The next step is to take your data and create awareness drills around IPE. Start with simple hitting lines. Give players 10 opportunities each to pass a free ball and take a swing into an open court off a set. Can they keep 9 out of 10 balls In Play? Add a blocker or two. Enter a ball with a serve instead of a free ball. Add in another passer. Or even keep IPE for a wash drill or a scrimmage. Keep stats to keep players aware. Are they still keeping 9 out of 10 balls in play?
To put things in perspective, the USA Women’s National Team Hitting IPE for the 2008 season was .860. Why did I now refer to it as “Hitting IPE”? Read on…
IPE started as a concept for hitting and has migrated to a Team IPE. Team IPE is based on all team errors committed (blocks errors, hitting errors, service errors, ball handling errors, passing errors) for a match (or even a season). Penn State’s Team IPE for the 2008 Final Four was .743 or for every 10 balls played 7.4 were kept in play. This also recognizes that Penn State gave up approximately 25% of their points on an error. Broken-down even further, this means that Penn State gave up roughly 6 points a match on their errors. If you recall Mick Haley’s point breakdown in a recent Coaching Volleyball Magazine article by the AVCA, the number of points he expected a good team to give up was 6. (Team IPE does not include points given up via a violation).
Keep in mind, one stat, or any stat for that matter, is an ultimate predictor or determinant of success. Stats are used to provide trends of players and teams as a guide of strengths and weaknesses. The Hitting IPE stat is one stat of many that breaks down hitting percentage. Hitting percentage is a combination of error % and kill %. Both parts are essential to a hitter and a team’s success. For example, the average Hitting IPE of the four final four teams was .875. This number can become a team’s season goal. In addition to this goal, the average kill percentage of the final four teams was 0.455, with one team far exceeding this average of 0.529 – care to guess which team?
A combination of IPE and Kill % can be used as a guide for players and teams to measure their level of success versus the competition. If a team has an IPE of 0.875 or a goal of 9 out of 10 attempts in play, PLUS has a kill % of .455 or 5 balls out of 10 attacks as kills, the team has a greater chance for offensive success.