The Volleyball Definition For Three Blocking Terms

Explanations for the double block, the offside blocker and what "using the block" means

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photo by Luomen

The Volleyball Definition for three crucial blocking terms:  the double

block, an offside blocker and using the block.

In addition to these definitions, you'll learn more from the pictures of

players in their positions as offside blockers, or while they are in a double

blockand also see examples of them using the block.

Remember that when a team is serving, that team's  three front

row players at the net are on defense and they are responsible

for blocking the opponent's attempt of attacking the ball back

into their court once they have served the ball over the net.

Once the ball is served, the three front row players on the

server's side will work together in an attempt to block a player

by forming a wall with their hands, and arms  (and for some who

jump high their shoulders)  that will extend over and penetrate 

the plane above the net in order to stop the opposing team's

hitter from spiking the ball into the defensive team's court.

Knowing what each blocker's roles and responsibilities are

when they rotate to the front row on an indoor volleyball court is

another important step towards improving your game IQ.  

The volleyball definition for blocking and other terms found on this page

will detail those responsibilities.

Read more about the volleyball block.

The Volleyball Definition For The "Offside Blocker"

The volleyball definition for offside blocker is the player who is front row

during an opposing hitter's attack, but is not actively participating in the

blocking action, because they are on the side that's furthest away from

the ball.

When there are three blockers at the net, the offside

blocker is the player who side steps off the net approximately

two to three steps to straddle the ten foot line to play defense,

because the opposing team's setter decided not to give the ball to the

hitter in front of the offside blocker. 

In the picture above, the players in the yellow jerseys are on defense.

The player wearing  #2 is jumping to block, along with #8 in the middle

blocker volleyball position who is moving to her right to help or assist

her teammate (the player wearing the #2 jersey), block the ball

attacked by the opposing hitter on the other side of the net.

In this play, #4 the left side player in zone 4 is the offside blocker and she

is preparing to do her job which is to either dig up any tip that lands

behind the block of her two front row teammates or to dig a sharp

cross court hit that lands on or near the ten foot line in front of


The Volleyball Definition For The Offside Blocker
Blocking Strategies

The primary responsibility of the offside blocker in volleyball is to dig the

sharp cross court hit, or depending on the team's defensive

volleyball blocking strategies, may be to pick up any tips that are

tipped behind their blockers or to the middle of their court.

In this picture below of the Arizona State volleyball players in defense,

the left side player wearing the number 12 jersey was the offside

blocker because the Cal Bears left side hitter (seen crouching at the net

with the white jersey with the yellow stripe) was set the ball.

The Cal Berkeley hitter tipped the ball to the middle of the court over

the Arizona State double block and is watching as the left side off

blocker is playing defense in an effort to keep her tip off the ground.

The Volleyball Definition For The "Double Block"

A double block describes what happens when two players form a wall

with their hands and arms raised above their head, to penetrate the

plane of the net.

In unison they cover a pre-determined area, either cross court or

down the line,  in an attempt to keep an opposing hitter from

hitting the ball into their court or to force the hitter to attack to a

specific area of the court. 

The Volleyball Definition For The Double Block
What Is The Purpose Of Having Two Players Block?

A two-player block reduces the amount of court a hitter can hit the ball


With two players blocking against a hitter, the hitter doesn't have

as many open spaces on the court to hit to and is forced to hit to

the area of the court the double blockers are not covering.

The hitter may choose to hit down the line if the double block is

"covering" or blocking  their cross court, or they will hit hard cross court if

the volleyball block is taking away the line.

Learn more blocker volleyball terms.

Below in the picture of the players at the net, the Missouri

State blockers have successfully taken away the hitter's ability to hit the

line shot, so they are forcing her to hit around them to the cross court

area of their court.

They closed the seam of the block and positioned themselves so

their hands took away the hitter's option to hit down the line so they are

"channeling the ball" to their defense laying in wait in their Zone 5 area.

Double Blocker Volleyball Strategies 

Why do they do this?

Because its probably one of the blocking strategies they've

decided to use against this particular hitter.

They may have decided to "take away" or to block her line shot and to

force her to hit cross court where they probably have their libero or best

defensive player waiting cross court ready to dig her spike up.

If they do, they can replay the ball and run the offense they

planned to run in an effort to score a point.

When faced with a double block, hitters are more likely to use other

options like the dink or the "tip", where the hitter at the height of their

jump will tip the ball softly over the double block in hopes that the ball

lands in an open area of the court, out of the block's reach and away

from the defense.

The hitter may also choose to aim for the "seam" of the double

block which is the space that's created between the arms of the

two opposing blockers, if for some reason the blockers don't "close the


Read more about the volleyball definition for closing the block.

What Makes A Good Double Block?

If the players forming the double block don't keep their hands

close enough to each other or close enough to their blocking

partner's hands, it renders their block less effective.

Instead of forming a solid wall that should stop the hitter,

they have a hole in that wall that a savvy hitter can aim for and hit


The job of the players forming a double block is to keep the

space between the two of them, especially the area between

the blocker's hands, closed while they are block jumping.


The Volleyball Definition For "Using The Block"

"Using the block" is one of the most important blocker volleyball

terms a player can learn.

When a hitter decides to "use the volleyball block' or "use the

blockers hands" or "wipe the block" - these all mean that they will

wipe the outside hand of the blocker with the ball in order to make a


If you want to improve your volleyball hitting percentage

you should work hard on this skill in your practice during

volleyball blocking drills because its very effective, especially

for smaller outside hitters who face big blockers and who need a

hitting option they can  rely on when they can't hit over or hit the ball past

the block.

This is a way to use the block to your advantage.

The "wiping or using the block" technique is based on a spiker

learning how to spike a volleyball in a way that they aim the ball

for the outside hand of the blocker that's closest to the antenna,.

After the ball is deflected off of the outside hand of the blocker it bounces

outside the court lines.

Since the blocker is the last person to touch the ball then this is a point

for the hitter and the team that's on offense.

The Volleyball Definition For Using The Block
Why Is Using The Block So Effective?

This skill is very effective because a defensive player playing behind the

blocker who's hand last touched the ball, will find it very difficult to

defend or dig a ball up that's already on it's way outside of the

court's boundary lines.

To avoid "being used" an outside blocker should train to go up

to block ball in a way that their hands and arms, once they

penetrate the plane of the net are angled so that they are

turned back into the opposing team's court.

This way, while they block and their shoulders, arms and hands

penetrate the plane of the net, their arms and hands are positioned to

deflect the ball back into the middle of the opposing team's court.

The blocker wants to position their arms over the net..and where they

want the ball to go. Hands first go straight up and then immediately over

the net so that the blockers arms and hands aren't "used" or "wiped off of"

by the hitter.  

In this picture of players at the net, I notice there are two

things that the Central Michigan blocker wearing the number

15 jersey should be concerned about.

First as she is going up to block jump, her arms are reaching

outside of her body and her hands are facing out of bounds.

If the Michigan hitter in the white jersey swings and aims the ball for

her left hand, the ball will bounce off her hand and then out of


This would be a point for the hitter, because she used the

blocker's own hands to score a point for the offense.

We would say in this case that the hitter "tooled" the block. 

Blocking In Volleyball: Michigan vs. Central Michigan  Photo by Joy VanBuhlerBlocking In Volleyball: Michigan vs. Central Michigan Photo by Joy VanBuhler

With this blocking volleyball form, the blocker increases the

chances of the hitter using her block because her body and her

hands are facing and moving outside the court  instead of

facing and moving inside the court.

If she had her body in front of the hitter and placed her arms and hands

in front of the extension of the hitter's arm with her arms particularly her

left turned at a slight angle into the court, then if the ball contacted her

outside or left arm or  hand it would bounce back into the court which be

a point for the blocker.

When you hear the volleyball definition for the phrase "using the

block" or "wiping the ball off the block" or "tooling the blockers hands"

these phrases all mean the same thing.

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