These volleyball blocking fundamentals are super important for you when you're in the front row because you need to be able to work together with your back row teammates on defense so everybody is on the same page about each other's responsibilities.
The primary responsibility of the offside blocker in volleyball is to dig the sharp cross court hit, or depending on the team's defensive blocking strategies, may be to pick up any tips that are supposed to land to an open space behind your 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.
A two-player block reduces the amount of court a hitter can hit the ball to.
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 ability to attack the ball to the cross court area along the net...
....or they will hit hard cross court if the blocker volleyball tactics have the block take away the line.
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 their hands past the block 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.
Why do teams place a double block at the net?
Teams place a double block in front of a hitter to:
Because its probably one of the blocker volleyball tactics 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 "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.
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 through.
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.
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