When blocking do you watch the ball or do you watch the hitter?
Regardless of the types of blocking in volleyball that you do its always important to watch the hitter or hitters that you are going to block in order to pick up important clues that will help you stop the attack at the net.
Ball - Setter - Ball - Hitter
Ball - Setter - Ball - Hitter is the pattern of movement your eyes as you are blocking in the front row (also the back row defense but we will get back to that later) should follow when in the front row, after your team's server has served the ball over the net.
These are the places you should be looking at, in other words where your eyes should be looking...to get clues as to who and where the opposing team now on offense intends to do with the ball (give the ball to), for their third contact... an attack hit that will send the ball back into your court.
These volleyball block tips will show you how.
Once your server serves the ball over the net to start the rally, you first want to track with your eyes the BALL that's being passed.
If its a perfect pass that goes right to the setter then you know the setter doesn't have to move off the net to go chase a bad pass.
If three hitters are in the front row then she has three players she can set to.
If there are two hitters in the front row then she can easily set those two hitters or try to dump or attack the ball herself.
If the pass was a bad pass that forces the setter to move off the net and chase the ball down...now as a blocker you say to yourself "Self, the setter is in trouble and can't make a perfect set to all of her possible front row hitters!
Because of where and how she is chasing the ball down, WHO is the most likely hitter or hitters can she set or give the ball to..in this situation?"
"By the way, good job, Self!"
Once you've quickly made a determination on the pass, now your eyes go to the Setter.
If it was a perfect pass, now you watch the setter's body language, hand position.
Some setters will show with their setting body position, that they intend to make a back set because they arch their back alot when then do, but when making a front set or a set to the middle, they don't.
If it was a bad pass you do the same thing.
But because you've identified that the setter is in trouble and can't easily deliver a perfect set to all her possible hitters, you look to pick up clues from her body language.
Is she running off the court or to her back court with her back to her hitters?
If that's the case, she will probably not even be able to set the ball with her hands but will bump it up in the air.
Once we've glanced or watched the setter to get some information about what she is about to do, now we watch the ball she just touched.
Once you see that
There are two primary areas on the court that you as an outside blocker need to focus on covering:
Outside hitters will attempt to either "hit the line" which is the area inside the court and parallel to the sideline they are hitting closest to.
If you are a right side hitter then the sideline closest to you on the opposing team's court is their Zone 4 sideline.
If you are a left side hitter then the sideline closest to you on the opposing team's court is their Zone 2 sideline.
Or outside hitters will attempt to "hit cross court" which is when a hitter hits towards the sideline (or the endline) furthest away from them and inside the court.
If you are a right side hitter then the sideline furthest from you on the opposing team's court is their Zone 2 sideline.
If you are a left side hitter then the sideline furthest from you on the opposing team's court is their Zone 4 sideline.
By watching the hitter you pick up important skill cues for blocking ....these cues you get after reading and interpreting what set the hitter is getting ..and then by watching the hitter's body language ... and determining where they plan to hit the ball...cross court or down the line.
When blocking a ball, if your hitter looks like she is going to hit down the line or try and wipe the ball off your arms or hands, then you’ll be able to see her prepare for that.
If you’re an outside blocker you’ll be able to adjust your arm and hand positioning above the net so that if she tries to wipe the ball off of your block while hitting the line, the ball will be deflected back into the court.
In the photo below watch how the blocker wearing the #5 jersey has both her arms angled towards the middle of the opposing team's court as she is at the height of her block jump.
If the hitter hits towards her arms the ball will be deflected back into the court and not out of bounds.
But if you’re watching the ball you won’t be able to see if your hitter intends to wipe the block, will you?
You won't be able to see if the hitter intends to hit down the line or to hit the ball cross court either.
If it looks like she is going to tip the ball then you can decide to stay at the net and attempt to block the tip or you may decide to take an area of the court away at the net and rely on your team’s defense to dig the tip up around you when you are in the middle of your volleyball block jump.
If the hitter you are trying to block gets an inside set, then by watching the hitter you can see how and where she is going to move to try and save that ball, either with a spike approach or with an emergency set of steps.
When you watch what the hitter is doing you can anticipate where the hitter is going to hit and that alone helps you improve your defensive skills in volleyball while you are in the front court.
Be sure to take one or two of these volleyball block tips and work on them in your practice this week.
Volleyball Blocking Drills For Beginners
One simple drill I do often for beginners is to have a player standing on a box on one side of the net.
Their hands and arms are penetrating over the net. I will hit into their blocking hands which should be angled towards the middle of my court before I hit the ball.
I will hit 10 - 12 balls into their block before giving them a chance to shake out their arms and do another set.
This gives the player a chance to get comfortable
Advanced Volleyball Blocking Drills
In every practice I do and I teach my coaches to do a blocking footwork sequence drill at the net.
It's a series of multi patterned steps and movements that the players do while moving in and out of their "loaded" ready blocking position and moving along the net.
The focus is to
Now hopefully from these volleyball block tips you've found out a sure way to increase the number of blocks you can successfully perform in a match.
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