The job description for the defensive specialist is slightly different than for the libero.
Unlike the libero, the defensive specialist in volleyball can:
A players base position in the back row is usually on or one step back from the ten foot line. This will vary slightly depending on what type of volleyball defense strategy the team is running and how fast they are running it.
Usually in the back court, digger's will do a series of 1 - 3 adjustment steps to better position themselves once they see where the setter has set the ball.
A digger should follow this eye sequence "Ball-Setter-Ball-Hitter or BSBH which means after the opposing team has passed the ball, the digger should watch the setter to see who she plans to set to.
Then once she sets the ball, the defensive player's eyes should track or watch the Ball as it travels to the Hitter. Now the digger should shift her gaze to the hitter, watching the hitter to get clues as to where (in what direction) she plans to hit.
All this eye sequencing (which the blocker does as well at the net) is done so that the front row blockers and the back row defensive diggers to see the same action and they move according to the planned volleyball defensive strategy that was decided to use against this opponent.
If the opposing team's setter sets the middle then players on defense usually have little to no time to take steps to position themselves on the court.
They have time to take one shuffle step usually outside of the shadow of their middle blocker or outside blocker and then they just get in a low defensive position ready to dig the ball or run down a tip coming from the middle attack.
If the opposing setter sets the ball to either of their outside hitters then diggers have more time to take 2-3 adjustment shuffle steps to position themselves outside of the shadow of the blocker in front of them, so they can see the ball the hitter is hitting.
And so they can better "read" the ball positioning and the hitter's body/arm language which gives them clues as to where the ball is about to be hit.
Following the volleyball defense strategy the coach has established for the team against this particular opponent the digger will position themselves to dig cross court because their blockers are taking away the hitter's ability to hit down the line, or, they are digging the line because their blockers are taking away, at the net, the opposing hitter's ability to hit cross court.
This requires a digger to quickly sink their hips below the level of the ball once the ball has been hit at them so they can position their angled platform directly underneath the path of the oncoming ball and control the ball up into the air.
This requires a digger to take one or two steps to get closer to the ball before digging it.
Usually players will use a sprawl or extension technique so if they need to hit the ground afterwards because they are off balance after digging the ball, then they can do so and quickly get back up unhurt and continue playing.
This will require a back court digger to learn a barrel roll or dive technique which does not help them actually dig the ball it helps them protect their body and finish landing on the ground in a safe and protected manner AFTER they've run to dig a ball to keep it off the floor.
Sometimes the opposing team will not spike a hard driven ball into the defensive team's court. They will give an easy ball or what's called a "free" ball over the net.
Because this type of ball isn't a fast hard driven attack it requires the defensive team to position themselves on their court in a different formation which resembles more of a serve receive formation than a defensive formation.
Many hours are spent in practice, or should be, identifying the difference between a free ball and how the team should position themselves and a spike and where the team should transition to be in the court.
The man-up or man-back defense or any of the perimeter volleyball defensive systems like rotation defense.
All these things are a part of learning how to adopt your team's volleyball defense strategies.
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