Plan Your Attack: Defense Behind a Block

Every attack is dif­fer­ent and unpre­dictable. In blog four, we’ll focus on cre­at­ing game-like sit­u­a­tions dur­ing prac­tice so your defense is ready for anything.

Plan Your Attack: Defense Behind a Block

Every attack is dif­fer­ent and unpre­dictable. In blog four, we’ll focus on cre­at­ing game-like sit­u­a­tions dur­ing prac­tice so your defense is ready for anything.

In part two of our blog series with The Art of Coach­ing Vol­ley­ball, your team learned how to dig line and angle attacks. But there are always going to be balls that don’t land per­fect­ly down the line or cross court. So in the fourth blog of our series, we’re focus­ing on how to expect the unex­pect­ed — dig­ging balls that go between block­ers or high off their hands.

The Prob­lem

You’re hav­ing a hard time decid­ing what you’re will­ing to give up and what you’re try­ing to defend. Should your mid­dle lean more towards the star out­side and risk leav­ing her mid­dle with­out a block­er? Do you want your mid­dle back to sneak up in case there’s a hole in the block, leav­ing the deep tip open? Your last three oppo­nents aver­aged a .322 hit­ting per­cent­age, and you need answers. Time to open your attack ten­den­cies report.

The Diag­no­sis

To get start­ed, you select your last three match­es. You notice there are a lot of blue lines with dash­es. The key tells you those are kills deflect­ed by a block­er. Are your block­ers up late? Are their attack­ers just real­ly good at hit­ting high hands? Is your mid­dle back not stay­ing deep enough? 

You also notice that a lot of your oppo­nents’ kills are land­ing in the mid­dle of the court. Is your back row play­er out of posi­tion? Or is the block not get­ting closed?

To find out, you click kills in the play­er stats table to open the video clips. Right away, you notice your mid­dle isn’t clos­ing the block. Or she’s get­ting tricked by the set­ter and isn’t get­ting up at all. Clos­ing the block will def­i­nite­ly be on the prac­tice plan next week, but you also need to teach your back row play­ers to pick up balls when there’s a hole.

The Solu­tion

Now you know your team needs to work on dig­ging off the block, but this can be a hard sit­u­a­tion to recre­ate. In this drill by Ore­gon State’s Mark Barnard, you’ll see how a fit ball can help sim­u­late what it’s like to dig ran­dom balls off block­ers’ hands on scram­ble plays. 

Defend­ing attack­ers who hit high hands? Check. So now it’s time to work on cov­er­ing holes in the block. In this drill from Penn State, five play­ers are on each side of the net with­out a mid­dle block­er. Your left and right side have to be inten­tion­al with their block­ing moves since they’re one-on-one with the hit­ter, and your back row will learn to be pre­cise about where they line up with the hitter’s shoul­der and stick to their position. 

Want to see more drills and coach­ing tips? Head over to The Art of Coach­ing Vol­ley­ball to start learn­ing. And stay tuned for part five of this series, Hit­ting Around the Block.