The Volleyball Block:
Improve Defensive Skills With Tips on Blocking

Blocking focuses on good footwork and great body control while reading your hitter to anticipate where to penetrate your hands over the net to block for points.

NCAA Big 10 Girls Volleyball - Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers, 2012-11-02

photo by nraupach


The volleyball block is your squad's first line of defense against an opposing team’s outside hitters or any attack hits by their players in the middle blocker position.

The block in volleyball is one of the most dynamic and most exciting parts of this crazy game we love to play.


The Volleyball Block
Tips on Volleyball Blocking


At the beginning of a rally, after the whistle blows and your team serves the ball into the opposing team's court, every front row player on your team should be focused on keeping your opponent from spiking the ball down onto your court's floor.


Once the ball hits the floor, or hits a blockers hands and goes out of bounds, that's a point for the opposing team, and you don't want that to happen.

Knowing how to put up an effective volleyball block will keep the opposing team from scoring points from their front row while they are on offense.

At the beginning of a rally, if your team is on defense, after the referee blows their whistle and your team serves the ball into the other team's court, the players in zone 2, zone 3 and zone 4 on your side should be laser focused on keeping your opponent from spiking the ball across the net and into your court.

In order to do that the front row players need to start by checking their upper and lower body blocking ready position so that they can be as efficient and as fast as they can.

 So that when they move along the net also known as moving laterally, which means from side-to-side along the net before jumping to block a volleyball their opponent is trying to hit they are in a well balanced position to stop the ball.


As a blocker, you need to position yourself in a way to create a barrier using your arms and hands to deflect any hit or spike attempts from an opposing team's spiker back into their court.

You are in fact trying to make yourself into a human wall, and that wall should prevent an outside hitter or middle hitter or back row attacker from the team on the other side of the net from hitting the ball onto your side of the court.


Tips on Volleyball Blocking:
What Should Your Feet, Knees and Lower Body Be Doing?


As always when I coach volleyball skills to players, I like to start at the bottom, with what you're supposed to do with your feet.

What should your feet be doing and where should they be positioned?

  • You want to start in a balanced position with your feet so that they are parallel to each other.
  • They should be perpendicular to the net so that you can maintain a balanced position that will allow you to move quickly to your right, to your left or backwards off the net to get back in defense or to transition so you can begin your spike approach if necessary.

You want to be in a position to be able to move laterally along the net quickly, which means your knees should be in a slight squat.

This is also called a "loaded" position. 

The ideal position for your lower body is to have your hips, midsection and upper body “squared to the net.”

When you hear the phrase squared to the net, it means that your body is completely parallel to the net. When all parts of your body are facing the net then your body is squared up to the net.


Footwork for Different Types of Blocking in Volleyball


There are three different types of footwork patterns for blocking in volleyball.

  • Hop Step
  • Shuffle step
  • Swing Step

From easiest to hardest..

The hop step footwork is the quickest step to use and covers the shortest amount of distance along the net.

This is basically a short sideways jump done with one foot at a time. Often used by the middles so they can cover short distances quickly. 

The shuffle step blocking footwork is the step work I prefer to use the most for middle blockers and outside hitters working to improve defensive skills in volleyball. 

My players learn to shuffle step quickly by picking up the outside foot of the direction they are moving towards. 

So if they need to move to the right, they learn to pick up their right foot first and then if they need to move to their left then they pick up their left foot first.

In my opinion the shuffle step, when practiced often can be as quick as the hop and is safer because it keeps you lower to the ground. (You are less likely to hop onto someone else's foot.)

Its also the step I have backcourt players use the most while digging in volleyball. I want front court and back court players to move the same way, see the same thing and react in a uniform way. 


The swing step blocking footwork is what I teach our more advanced players and I teach what the USA Volleyball High Performance program teaches in that your first step is the cross over step...with no prep step..

When moving to the right..you cross over with the left and when moving to the left ..you cross over to the right.

When taking your cross over step your body is

  • turned perpendicular to the net with both arms swung back until you
  • swing both arms forward as you bring your back foot around parallel to the crossover foot.

The swing block is designed to give the blocker more elevation and helps you get your hands and arms further over the net while blocking a fast attack. 

Timing this type of volleyball block is very important. 


Timing The Volleyball Block Jump


Speaking of timing, during your block, you want to wait until, just before the opposing player spikes the ball, then you jump.





As you jump, you want to extend your hands, arms and shoulders over the net or if you can’t reach over, then as high as possible in order to grab the ball.

If you haven’t been instructed by your coach to take an area of the court away with your volleyball block, then your goal is to literally try to stop the ball before it passes over thnet.

Keep your hands spread and your fingers wide apart in order to cover as much area above the net away from the hitter. This is how you "block" the ball.


Volleyball block: The Infamous Penn State Volleyball Blockers  Photo by Penn State NewsThe Infamous Penn State Volleyball Blockers Photo by Penn State News


Once you block the ball, your widespread fingers and straight arms which are backed by your solid rigid wrists should just deflect the ball back into the middle of your opponents court.

Let me repeat. Imagine that you are making a wall with your hands and arms that you will use to redirect the ball back into the middle of your opponent’s court.

That’s the best way to think about how you should be blocking a volleyball.

How To Play Volleyball: Where Do You Go From Here?


We know where you need to go now! Here are three options: 

  1. Learn more about Digging
  2. Follow the suggested reading on our Sitemap page Learning How To Play (Sitemap)
  3. Or visit the pages in the How to Play Volleyball section in the drop down menu at the top of the page to get started. 
  4. Before leaving this page Say "Hi" to Mr G.B Blash, the Bear, wearing the #11 jersey below. "G.B" aka "Great Big" is the starting middle blocker for the All Beast VolleyBragSwag All Star team.  

Related Links: 

How to Play

Learn To Play

Serving

Passing

Setting

Spiking

Blocking

Digging

Defense

Serve Receive

Terms


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