How to Get Better at Blocking in Volleyball

June 30, 2023

Whether you’re new to the sport, or a seasoned player, knowing how to effectively block is essential to any volleyball game. Blocking in volleyball is pretty straightforward, the opposing team is trying to hit the ball over the net and you need to stop them, but is it always that simple? The higher level you play at in volleyball, the more strategic the opposing team's offence is going to be, that means you need to know a bit more than jumping and sticking your hands straight up to block the ball. 

In this blog, we’re going to dive into some of the best practices for blocking in volleyball, including the basics of the technique, blocking strategies, and some insider best practices. If you’re new to volleyball consider checking out our “Volleyball Fundamentals” blog as well to help get you started on your volleyball journey! 

Basic Blocking Techniques

  1. Proper Positioning: Good blocking starts with proper positioning. As a blocker, you should line up opposite the attacker with your hands raised high and your body square to the net. Keep an eye on the opposing team's setter, the player that they set to is who you’ll be defending against, so keep a close eye on where the ball is travelling and position yourself accordingly. 
  2. Effective Footwork: Footwork is crucial to reach the correct spot on time. Most blockers use the shuffle step or the crossover step to move along the net. If you’re not the best on your feet then you might want to consider using some footwork drills to help improve your performance. 
  3. Hand Positioning: Once the opposing team's attacker has the ball and it’s barreling toward your side of the court you need to get ready to block, this includes proper hand and arm position. To properly block ensure your fingers are spread wide, and your hands form a shape similar to contouring a ball. This will give you the maximum blocking surface area.
  4. Body Positioning: When you jump to block, your body should lean into the opponent's court. Remember, you aim to deflect the ball back to the opponent's side, so angle your body toward the opponent's side of the court to provide maximum accuracy. 

Strategic Blocking Techniques

Once you've mastered the basics, it's time to incorporate some advanced strategies into your blocking repertoire.

  1. Reading the Opponent: As a blocker, it's vital to "read" the opponent's set-up. Look for cues like the setter's body and hand positioning and the hitter's approach and arm swing. This will give you a clue about when and where the ball will be hit.
  2. Coordinating with Teammates: Teamwork makes the dream work, especially in blocking. Coordinating with your fellow blockers is key. Whether you're setting up a double block or a triple block, clear communication and understanding with your teammates can help seal off the net effectively.
  3. Channelling the Attack: An effective strategy is to position your block in a way that directs the attacker to hit the ball toward your team's strongest defenders.
  4. Delay Blocking: Also known as "soft blocking," this strategy involves delaying your jump slightly to disrupt the timing of the attacker and block slower attacks like tips or roll shots.

Practice Makes Perfect

Like all aspects of volleyball, effective blocking requires regular practice. Players at higher level volleyball games typically have a lot of court time under their belts and even experience with coaches, allowing them to excel so far. For recreational players or below, it’s important to remember that all volleyball skills are perfected with practice, practicing your blocking technique and timing will allow you to become a better player and reach higher levels of play in volleyball. ‍

To Practice blocking consider using drills, team practice exercises, training sessions and online tools to progress your blocking skills. Regardless of what you do, any practice is good practice as so long as it helps you with your timing, confidence, and blocking strategy. ‍ 

In the dynamic and high-energy world of volleyball, mastering the art of blocking can give you a significant edge. As you improve your blocking skills, you'll find yourself becoming a more versatile player, capable of both stonewalling your opponents' attacks and setting up opportunities for your team.

So, next time you step onto the court for a drop-in or a league game, remember these techniques and strategies. With time and practice, you'll see your game elevate to new heights. 

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