Junior Power Rankings Have Arrived! Now What?


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No more guessing. No more what-ifs. No more complicated seedings or math. Finally, a comprehensive youth volleyball ranking system that's definitive, easy to use and nationwide reach. Below is a summary of the rankings, however the full article from the April/May issue of AVCA's Coaching Volleyball is available here. Author Dave Patschke does a great job introducing the rankings and explaining the in and outs of this game changing tool for junior volleyball.

The AES Power Rankings attempt to do for junior volleyball what the Pablo algorithm has done for college volleyball and what the Google and Facebook algorithms have done in our everyday lives: take our interests, biases and VolleyTalk debates and, using only verified metrics, put order into the chaos caused by too much data. Truthfully, if you can gather all the data, club volleyball is an ideal environment for developing a national ranking system. First, there is a relatively high number of points scored in each match (compared to football

or soccer); second, there is a high number of competitions during a club season; and third, there is a large amount of cross-regional and cross-organizational play (USAV, AAU, JVA). These factors produce reams of data that, if captured in one place, can produce a very robust and accurate ranking system.

So is a ranking system good or bad for junior volleyball? Most youth sports organizations have a ranking system that involves only the teams that compete in their organization. This produces a whole group of #1 teams and, at the end of the season, numerous "national champions." Volleyball is doing this also. The junior's year ends with three championships going on at the same time: USAV's Junior Nationals, AAU's Junior Nationals, and The Volleyball Festival. Each of these events has multiple divisions in every age group already and more divisions are on the horizon as the events get bigger. All of this is positive, as it provides for more opportunities for players to compete and end the season in winning fashion.

What makes junior volleyball different from youth other sports that use rankings? 1) There is considerable overlap of teams from USAV, AAU and JVA playing in different events during the season, and 2) AES already contracts with almost all the major tournaments, and, therefore, has much of the data needed to build a truly national ranking system.

Are there limitations to the rankings? The biggest pitfall for any ranking methodology is incorrect or incomplete match information. The algorithms are only as good as the data that goes into the system. That is why much care has to be taken to make sure that only quality data goes into the ranking algorithms. The ensemble of ranking algorithms used in the aggregated rankings are in the public domain but have been customized/tweaked to account for scoring behavior specifically identified within volleyball matches. Without boring the reader with too many algorithmic details, derivatives of the following ranking/statistical methods are used by the Power Rankings: Linear, Logistic and Quantile Regression; Principal Component Analysis; Markov Chains; Gradient Boosting Models; Link Analysis; and more.

With a national junior's ranking, tournament directors can now have the best possible seeds in a matter of minutes rather than days. Teams playing in the tournaments can know that if they use the available tools or provide accurate results from previous tournaments, they will be seeded using objective methods. In the end, results speak for themselves and the Power Rankings will translate the results into a language everyone will understand.

View the AES Junior Power Rankings here and see where your team stands.

Read full article here.


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