The Block In Volleyball

How To Score With Your Volleyball Block

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photo by Luomen

The Block in Volleyball. 

The block is the first line of your team's defense when your squad

has earned the right to serve the ball.

When your team is serving, your players are on defense, three in the front 

court as blockers and three in the back court who's job it is to keep the

ball off the floor when it comes past the block.

Just so I'm clear, there are two ways to try and keep the other team from

scoring a point when your team is serving the ball.

The first way is at the net where your front row players are in

charge of blocking the opposing team's attempt to hit the ball

into your team's court.

The second way this happens is if the opposing team has successfully

hit the ball past your block and into your court.

Then your team's back row players are in charge of digging or

defending that ball in an effort to keep it off the ground on your


This example is illustrated perfectly in the picture of the volleyball player

below who's digging a ball after the opposing hitter was successful in

getting the ball past the triple block put up by the digger's front

row players.

How Do The Front Row Blockers And Back Row Defense Players

Work Together?

Basically if the front row players can't do their job successfully by

putting up a good block in volleyball then its the back row's

player responsibility to keep the ball off the floor.

The front row players spend hours in blocking practice drills so

that they can work in tandem with their back row players, so that

everyone knows where to be, what to do and when to do it.

Front Row Blockers With Backrow Players In Defense Photo by Chris DainesFront Row Blockers With Backrow Players In Defense Photo by Chris Daines

Learning how and where to time your jump when you block in

volleyball is important because when the blockers are consistent with

their movements and placement in the front row, then the players in

defense behind them know exactly where they need to place

themselves in the back court.

In order to effectively do this, the front row blockers have to know

where to be when they have a hitter who hits in a particular direction,

let's say cross court.

They have to be disciplined enough to set up in the correct spot

consistently so that their back row players know what they are doing

and know where to set up behind them for each and every play and for

each and every possible scenario that the offensive team might try

against them..

That's why it's crucial for the block in volleyball to be done with

good technique against different hitters who spike different kinds of sets,

at different speeds, at different locations along the net.

This is what helps many top defensive teams win points. 

Here are some volleyball blocking terms used to describe specific

technical aspects of this defensive skill.

What does "seal the net" mean?

When you "seal the net" it means that when you are in the middle of

your block, while you are jumping, you need to keep your

shoulders, chest, your underarms, upper body including your chest, abs

and hips parallel to the net, all while keeping as little space as possible

between you and the net...without touching it.

The photo above shows a great picture of volleyball

players sealing the net with their block which you can see very well

from this side view.

Can you see how little space there is between their blocking hands,

arms and bodies and the net?

There's very little. Each player's armpits are as close to the net as possible

without touching it. 

Click here for more pictures of players blocking in volleyball.

They have successfully done their job and even on the way down from

their block jump they keep their arms and hands as close to the net

without touching it to prevent any chance of the ball slipping in

between them and the net on their side.

Why Is The Technique Of The Block In Volleyball Important?

Many hitters score points that they shouldn't, not because they are

great hitters but because the blockers hands and body positioning were

too far away from the net when they jumped to block.

Oftentimes hitters are successful because they are hitting the ball

against blockers who jump straight up in the air, making the

mistake of keeping their hands, arms and shoulders behind their ears

when they are in the air.

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photo by Luomen


So all the hitter has to do is hit the ball and aim it right at the hands of

the blocker which allows the ball to come dribbling down in front of the

player's body between the blocker and the net.

That's always an easy point for the hitter and its a sure sign that the

opposing players need to work to improve a proper volleyball blocking

finish with their hands and arms sealing off that space between them

and the net.

If the blocker had used better blocking technique by correctly

"sealing the net" then while jumping up to block the ball, they would

have kept their shoulders, hands and arms in front of their ears as they

were jumping which would close off all that space between the blocker's

hands and the net so a ball couldn't come through their hands and

down the inside of the net.

This is a movement to focus on while working on your volleyball

blocking drills in practice.

What's a stuff block?

A stuff block describes a type of block in volleyball that was so

efficiently performed that it didn't allow the hitter enough time to really

hit the ball.

The blocker was able to penetrate their hands so far over the net

that they literally "stuffed" the ball back into the opposing team's court

leaving the hitter no court to hit to.

What is read blocking?

Read blocking occurs when a blocker has been assigned a

particular hitter to block and as the play develops they follow, or read

where their assigned hitter is going to attack the ball and their job is to

follow that player no matter where she is and to block her.

Illinois State Redbirds Blockers Calling Out  Opposing Team's Hitters Before The Serve  Photo by Bill ShanerIllinois State Redbirds Blockers Calling Out Opposing Team's Hitters Before The Serve Photo by Bill Shaner

The read block in volleyball occurs most often in higher levels of

competition and in beach volleyball where a blocker will read the hitter

in an attempt to anticipate how to block them or to decide what area

of the court they will take away from that hitter.

The other blocking volleyball system that leaves less decision-making

to the player and more to the coach is where the coach determines

what area of the court all the blockers will cover or take away, instead of

the player.

It's usually the coach that will decide volleyball blocking

strategies which include deciding whether his/her team will block

cross court against the opposing team or if only some of the coach's

players will be responsible for sticking to this game plan that was

established off the court or before the game.

Especially in NCAA competition it takes time and plenty of drills

and reps for college volleyball players to become good at

reading the block in volleyball.

Iowa Players Reading The Block And Sealing The Net  Photo by Matt Van WinkleIowa Players Reading The Block And Sealing The Net Photo by Matt Van Winkle

As a blocker it takes a combination of timing, anticipation, and quick

reflexes to be able to read the hitter's body language and then position

yourself  in the right spot at the right time to stop a hitter by blocking


Keeping your eyes open while you are block jumping is another

secret to good read blocking because if you watch the ball for too

long then you can't see until its too late where the hitter intends to hit the


Above, in the picture of Iowa volleyball players blocking, no. 17

has her eyes open throughout the whole blocking process

watching and reading her hitter to see where she goes and where her

hitting arm is angled so that she can get clues as to how to block her.

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