Blocking Volleyball Players Successfully

Learn how to block volleyball players effectively

Blocking Volleyball Information.

Blocking in volleyball is the first line of defense for the serving team in a


After the serve, the front row players on the serving team, are in the

front row in blocking volleyball formation ready to keep the ball from re-

entering their court. 

The middle blocker, is the primary blocker stationed in the

middle of the net.

She's flanked by her two outside blockers who are ready to help out in

the middle, travel outside to the ends of the net to prevent an attack by

an opposing hitter or they come off the net to play defense on the

ten foot line where they're ready to pick up any tips or sharp cross court 


Its the middle blocker's job to track the ball from the passer to

the setter for clues as to which one of her hitters she's going to


She's watching the setter and then tracks the set to the hitter. 

Once she figures it out, she tracks the ball, following it to the hitter and

then all eyes are on the hitter as she tries to stop whatever attack is


Knowing this volleyball terminology is essential to raising the

quality of your defense at the net.

Strong, efficient blockers aren't always the tallest people on the court

but quite often they are some of the smartest players in the front row.

Sure, coaches love tall volleyball blockers but short blockers are

harder for tall hitters to see when they are attempting to hit the ball.

Why Short Volleyball Blockers Rock!

And if a hitter doesn't see the hands of the opposing team's block, they

tend to think that there's no blocker on the other side of the net to

stop them, so what do they do?

WATCH! The #1 block in this video of the Top 5 blocks in the 2016 FIVB World Grand Prix by Thailand's small blockers against Russia, known to have the tallest hitters in the world. 

They hit straight down, instead of reaching high to contact the ball at

its highest point, like they would if they saw another pair of blocker's

hands trying to keep them from hitting the ball into their court.

That's when a short blocker, who has placed themselves in the

right position and has timed their block jump correctly, can

block a ball hit by a tall player, time after time after time.

How do I know this? Because its happened to me repeatedly as a former 

professional outside volleyball hitter.

I had no problem hitting past blockers that were taller than I was.

My problem came when I was hitting against shorter blockers who's

hands didn't reach as high as mine when I was hitting and they were

blocking against me.

When I was going up to spike a volleyball, if I didn't remember to

reach high, even when I didn't see a blocker's hands jumping with me, I

would make the mistake of hitting the ball straight down, right into the

shorter blocker's hands.

Boy was that embarassing, for me, the taller hitter!

Trust me, you really want to understand the fundamentals and

terminology explained in this blocking volleyball skills section.

First, I begin by providing a thorough definition along with pictures

illustrating what the hole in the block is.

Then you'll find out what it really means to build a roof and you'll learn

what a block attempt is.

You'll also learn what it means when blocking volleyball players

on opposing teams go up for a joust over the net.

I'll finish up with an explanation for over, for under, for the kong

block and who made it famous and I'll tell you what a block assist is. 

Let's get started.

What's a "hole in the block?"

A hole in the block can be created between the hands of two

volleyball players that are going up to cover an area on the net....and


If you look at the photo above the two players blocking on defense No.6

and no.21 have made a block attempt and although they penetrated

the net with the proper blocking finish with their hands, the hitter, no. 10

has managed to hit the ball through the seam of the block which was

created between the right blocking hand of the middle blocker

and the left hand of the off side blocker.

When two blockers go up to block a ball, if they don't close their

blocking hands together to cover the area above the net that's

between the two of them, then that leaves a space between


Villanova Hitter Hits Through The Hole In The North Carolina Block  Photo by Charlie JVillanova Hitter Hits Through The Hole In The North Carolina Block Photo by Charlie J

In the picture of the North Carolina volleyball players blocking above,

no. 5 and no. 7 have formed a block, but their hands have not come

close enough together to close the hole or the seam that's naturally

created between the two of them.

The Villanova hitter, with the no 7. jersey, sees the hole and aims her

spike right for that open hole in hopes that there's no Carolina back

row player positioned in a defensive spot that's designed to

have her pick up or dig a ball that's been hit through the seam.

In this photo it looks like there is someone in defense covering the seam

but that isn't always the case.

In college ball now, many types of defense are designed to have a

libero or great digger to position themselves in the seam to dig that


Some players and coaches call it a "gap" between the block or a "hole"

in the block.

You may have heard another name for this hole that has been

created between these two players called a "seam".

Remember that you want to close your blocking hands when

you are one-on-one blocking by yourself as well, because a single

player can create a hole in her own block if she's the only one going up

to block a hitter and she has her own hands spread too wide apart.

Now she has created a hole in her own blocking hands that

the opposing hitter could hit through as well.

In either case, that seam, creates a space for a hitter to

aim for, in hopes of earning a point for her team by hitting the ball

through the hole created by the blocker's hands.

What's a "roof?"

The technical definition of this blocking volleyball term describes an

aggressive action made by a player who penetrates the net with their

hands to stop a consistently hard-hitting hitter.

When this action results in the ball going straight down at a high speed

back into the hitter's court typically within the ten foot line, it's called a


Kansas Blockers Roof A UMKC Hitter  Photo By Mark ShaikenKansas Blockers Roof A UMKC Hitter Photo By Mark Shaiken

Okay, that definition sounds extremely clinical, but when a hitter gets

"roofed" its cause for a lot of excitement because the blocker on your

team completely shut down a big an aggressive style.

She completely "closed down" the hitter's attempt to spike a powerful

ball and she did it spectacularly! She "roofed" her.

This is the description word most players use when they make

an aggressive blocking volleyball move against that one

opposing player that has been making really hard spikes during

the game and has been scoring a lot of points.

When that hitter is finally blocked and the ball comes back into their

court, harder than how they hit it....then that player has been


Just like a ceiling or a roof that covers the top of a house a

player's blocking volleyball hands should form the shape of a

roof that covers and closes down a hitter's attempt to hit the ball

past them.

What's a block attempt?

NCVARegional-Day1 305


photo by Luomen

A block attempt is made by a player when they perform the

action of jumping to block the ball of an opposing player but

are unable to prevent the spike from entering into their court.

Basically an attempt is when you go up to block, you have the intention

of stopping the hitter's ball, but you don't.

Here are two more block attempt scenarios that will put a notch on the

stat sheet.

Your block may be successful in channeling the hitter's spike to your

defense or you made an attempt to block the ball and didn't commit

any fouls like touching the net or touching the ball on its way out of


In the two examples above, as long as you jumped to stop the opposing

hitter then that counts as a block attempt.

What's a "joust?"

East Carolina vs. Rice In A Blocking Volleyball Joust At The Net  Photo by Michael E. JohnstonEast Carolina vs. Rice In A Blocking Volleyball Joust At The Net Photo by Michael E. Johnston

A joust occurs when two players contact the ball over the net at the

same time.

This action occurs between two opposing blocking volleyball players, or 

one blocker and one hitter who was trying to tip the ball over the

blocker and instead the ball was set close to the net, so now both

players are contacting the ball at the same time, with both of them

trying to push the ball into the other team's court.

Nine times out of ten, if two opposing players go up to contact a ball at

the same time over the net, the last player to contact the ball

almost always wins because they have momentum on their side.

Their advantage is that they are going up and pushing the ball over

while the first player is coming down from their jump losing momentum

and power as they get closer to the ground.

That's the secret to winning the joust.

It's one of the most important blocking volleyball secrets for short

players. You must  try to be the second player to touch the ball in a


Once I learned this trick of being the second player to touch the ball, I

hardly ever lost a joust because I knew that all I had to do was wait as

long as I could, then once I saw the opposing player touch the

ball then I put my hands on the ball and pushed it over into the

opposing court.

Oral Roberts and Rice Blocking Volleyball Players Jousting  Photo by Michael E. JohnstonOral Roberts and Rice Blocking Volleyball Players Jousting Photo by Michael E. Johnston

The joust is an action between blocking volleyball players that

happens fast and it takes practice, timing and a quick eye but it’s worth

saving a tip gone bad.

What's a "block assist"?

A “block assist” is one of those frequently used blocking

volleyball statistical terms used to give credit to a player or

players who created a double or triple block by assisting a

teammate who blocked an opponent for a point during a rally.

On a stat sheet one blocker will get credit for actually completing the

block and the other will get credit for assisting in the blocking action.

Who gets what is up to the interpretation of who is keeping the stats

and what they believe they saw each blocker doing.

What's a "Kong" block?

The phrase "Kong" block refers to a player who blocks a volleyball with

one arm instead of two.

The Kong block was made famous and popularized by American beach

champion and Hall of Fame inductee Randy Stoklos.

Kerri Walsh Kerri Walsh "Kong" Blocking Photo by Steve Corey

Instead of taking one area of the net away he would take two areas by

splitting his hands when he jumped, so that both arms were almost

parallel to the net but they were still penetrating above the plane of the

net in an attempt to stop the hitter's ball.

When he managed to block the ball, it was with one arm and it was a

spectacular play.

What does "over" mean?

"Over" is one of the blocking volleyball terms a referee will use to

indicate that a front row player has reached over the net to contact or

block a ball while it is still on the opposing team's court.

What does "under "mean?

"Under" is another one of those blocking volleyball terms that a referee

will use to refer to a violation committed when a blocker steps "under"

the net in a way that interferes with the opposing team's ability to

continue playing a ball.

Discover Where To Find More Blocking Volleyball Terms And Techniques On This Site

In the Blocking Volleyball section below, you'll find pictures plus short

summaries of all the information provided about blocking on the

following pages.

Blocking in Volleyball

On the Blocking In Volleyball page you'll find a series of

terms that involve blocking with or without the help of  teammate

beside you.

Illinois Volleyball Players Double Blocking Against Penn State Hitter  Photo by Richard YuanIllinois Volleyball Players Double Blocking Against Penn State Hitter Photo by Richard Yuan

Find out what it means to one-on-one block, to swing block and

find out what a triple block actually is.

Penn State Players In A Triple Block  Photo by Penn State NewsPenn State Players In A Triple Block Photo by Penn State News

And yes, to answer your question, a triple block does involve three


The Volleyball Block

In great detail, you'll find a breakdown of the ideal position your body

should be in before, during and after you block a ball. 

And if you're also looking for information regarding blocking for short

players? Then this is a good section to review and to return to often. 

First you'll find and explanation for where and how your feet

should be positioned followed by an explanation of where your

lower body parts should be in relation to the net and afterwards

you'll be informed as to what you should be doing with your shoulders,

your head and how your hands and arms should be for the proper

volleyball blocking finish as well. 

Wichita State Shockers Blocker  Photo by Bill ShanerWichita State Shockers Blocker Photo by Bill Shaner

This is a body part-by-body-part review of proper block technique in


After that I tell you what and who you should be watching while blocking

a volleyball, and I include tips on how to time your block jump when you

are trying to stop an opposing team's hitter from spiking the ball. 

Think about it.

If the timing of your block jump is such that you are reaching the

highest height of your jump while the hitter you are blocking is always

on her way down, then you will never be able to stop the ball

from coming into your court, which is the whole idea behind blocking

a ball anyway.

So if you are looking for tips on how to be a better blocker

by improving your timing against an opposing team's hitter, then

it's vital for you to read the information on this page.

Blocking Volleyball Strategies

In this section you'll read about the issues concerning how and

where you should line your body up against an oncoming hitter who

is hitting the line against you or even more commonly how to

position yourself up to block someone who is trying to spike cross

court against you and your team.

Your Pictures of Volleyball Players Blocking

Calling all volleyball photographers!

Included on the Volleyball Block page is a picture gallery of

volleyball players in all sorts of blocking action for readers who learn

by picking up visual clues and tips from seeing what collegiate and

beach players do in the images displayed.


If you're a college volleyball photographer, you have an invitation to

submit examples of your volleyball blocking photo action in this section.

Volleyball Blocking Terms

I saved the Blocking Terms page to define the block in

volleyball specifically for those beginner players or people

looking for a refresher course on the basic terminology for


Rice Hitter Blasts Through A Triple Block  Photo by Mike E. JohnstonRice Hitter Blasts Through A Triple Block Photo by Mike E. Johnston

After defining what the block actually is, I review additional blocking

terminology like closing the block, penetration, the seam and I

explain what a screen is before telling you what a middle blocker is,

what an outside blocker is and giving an explanation about what

these players responsibilities and roles are.

For more information dealing with skills and proper volleyball blocking

technique scroll down further for an explanation of this defensive net

skill many players find tricky to learn.

The Block In Volleyball

On the Block In Volleyball page I continue to define common

terminology that deals with specific actions that happen during the

blocking action.

You'll learn what seal the net means and what a stuff block is

before I explain what it means to read block.

Reading the block is an important skill all players should learn

especially shorter ones.

This ability to interpret what a hitter plans to do before or while she is

doing it allows players to anticipate where to set up their block

based on what they see the hitter do.

Meet G.B. Blash the Grizzly Bear and Middle Blocker on 
VolleyBragSwag's All Beast Team

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