Volleyball Block Tips To Improve Your Defensive Skills in Volleyball

Learn crucial skill cues for blocking in volleyball that will help you stop the ball at the net while your team is on defense

Volleyball Block Tips:  What Cues Do You Follow To Successfully Stop An Attack Hit While Blocking in VolleyballVolleyball Block Tips: What Cues Do You Follow To Successfully Stop An Attack Hit While Blocking in Volleyball

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.

Volleyball Block Tips:
Learn These Skill Cues For Blocking in Volleyball
 "Ball Setter Ball Hitter"

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. 

Your job as a blocker is to stop that ball at the net. 

These volleyball block tips will show you how. 

Watch the blocking footwork practice we do in Volleyball Voice Boot Camp classes. 

Volleyball Block Tips: 
Learn Skill Cues For Blocking
"First Watch The Ball"

The Ball

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.

  • Why? 
  • What are you looking for? 
  • What are you trying to quickly evaluate about the pass? 
  • What information do you need to quickly get that will help you make a good volleyball block action?

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. 

Okay so as a blocker that will tell you right away the setter is in a position to use ALL of her possible hitters to run an offense. 

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!"

Volleyball Block Tips:
Learn Skill Cues For Blocking
"Then Watch The Setter"

The Setter

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.  

These are the types of skill cues and clues in blocking you are trying to read and interpret as a blocker in order to improve your defensive skills! 

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. 

Volleyball Block Tips: 
Learn Skill Cues For Blocking
"Now Peep The Ball Again Right Quick"

The Ball

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. 

  • Where's the set going? 
  • Is it a high ball or a faster set like a "Hut" or a "Go"?
  • Is the ball going to the hitter in front of me or to the middle or to the other hitter in front of my teammate on the other side of my middle blocker?

Volleyball Block Tips: 
Learn Skill Cues For Blocking
"All Eyes On The Hitter"

The Hitter

By quickly determining where the ball is going you can then determine where you need to move and the type of blocking you need to do next.  

Once you see that

  • your  hitter, the hitter in front of you is getting the ball and 
  • you quickly note what type of set they are going to get--by looking at the type of ball the opposing setter has set to your hitter
  • you now want your eyes to focus on your hitter

Types of Blocking in Volleyball

There are two primary areas on the court that you as an outside blocker need to focus on covering:

  • blocking the line
  • blocking cross court

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. 

Volleyball Block Tips For
Watching The Hitter

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.

Point!...for the blockers.

Volleyball block tips:Creighton Bluejays outside blocker blocks with arms angled back into the middle of the opposing team's court Photo by White and Blue ReviewVolleyball Block Tips: Creighton Bluejays outside blocker blocks with arms angled back into the middle of the opposing team's court Photo by White and Blue Review

But if you’re watching the ball you won’t be able to see if your hitter intends to wipe the block, will you?

A Good Volleyball Block
Rule To Remember

"As a blocker you want your blocking arms angled toward the direction you want the ball to go once you've blocked it. "

More Types Of Blocking In Volleyball

Volleyball Block Tips: Blocker (#18) is blocking cross court while the spiker is hitting the line.Volleyball Block Tips: Blocker (#18) is blocking cross court while the spiker is hitting the line.

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.

"As a blocker can you see why you need to watch or to track your hitter, once you know where the ball has been set?"

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. 

Blocking in Volleyball Drills

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

  • watching or reading the hitter 
  • interpreting the cues that the hitter is showing them and adjusting accordingly
  • feeling a hard hit spike and getting use to having their blocking hands penetrating the other side of the net
  • reinforcing how strong their shoulders need to be while pressing them over the net

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 

  • increase body control at the net while not touching the net
  • moving along the net while not touching the net
  • performing various jump series and footwork series while staying the same arm distance from the net without having to adjust their position
  • using peripheral and wide vision to be able to see their hitter and feel their teammate blocking next to them without having to turn and look at them

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.

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 Blocking by clicking one of the links in the Related Links below. 
  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.  

Related Links:

The Middle Blocker Rules and Responsibilities 

Middle Blocker Position Offensive and Defensive Duties

Blocker Footwork and Timing For Making A Good Block

12 Blocker Tips: A Checklist of Blocking Steps To Perform

More Links:

Top 12 Block Rules and Rule Violations You Must Know

The Block: Improve Defense Skills With Tips On Blocking

Block Tips To Improve Your Defensive Skills

Block Tips To Help Front Row Players Stop Balls At The Net

Blocking Strategies for the Middle Blocker

Volleyball Player Picture Gallery of
Blockers In Action

Do You Have Great Pictures of Volleyball Players Blocking?

I know you've taken the perfect shot of a college volleyball block, that no one has seen yet!

Well now they can...

If you have a fantastic picture of a volleyball player or volleyball players, male or female, blocking during a Division I collegiate game then we'd love to see examples of your work.

Did you get the perfect shot of a stuff block?.. a triple block? Or even your awesome photo of the perfect joust at the net between opposing players belongs in this gallery of volleyball pictures.

Please share your frozen moment of great blocking action whether you are an ace photographer for real or in your own mind, we encourage you to share examples of your best work with our readers. It's easy!

Be brave! Step up and show us what you have...the more creative you are, the better.

Our readers will love to provide their feedback on your volleyball blocking photography, please allow them to share in the beauty of your work.

You can submit up to four images of your best blocking action captured in a photo. When you submit more than one image, each image will appear as a thumbnail image in the submission that you submit. Each thumbnail will be clickable to show it as a larger image.

We reserve the right not to publish work that is inappropriate for our readers and that does not contain any collegiate volleyball blocking action.

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Blocking Highlights

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