What is Blocking in Volleyball?
How and When to Block

What is blocking in volleyball?

Definition of a Block

Blocking is the action of a player near the net, reaching higher than the top of the net. For the contact to be a block, the player must have a part of the body above the top of the net at contact. 

A block attempt is when a player performs the blocking action without blocking the ball. 

A completed block is when a player completes the block by touching the ball.  

A collective block is completed when two or more players are blocking and one of them touches the ball. 

Why Block? - What is Blocking in Volleyball

The purpose of blocking is to help your team slow down or stop the opponent's attack. You aren't necessarily trying to make contact with the ball when blocking. For example, the blockers at the net could work to funnel the ball to the defense. 

Strategies for Blocking

There are 3 main strategies for blocking.

  • Block the Ball. The blockers can be positioned at the net with the intention of blocking the ball. This is usually best for when you have blockers at the net that are skilled at stuff blocking. Especially if the opponent has a weak attack, your team may decide to focus on stuff blocks. 
  • Funnel the Ball to the Defense. If your blockers aren't very good at blocking or your opponent is tough to block, you may decide to try to funnel the ball to the defense. If you opponent is tough to block, just have your blockers take up space or focus on crossing angles. The blockers and defenders need to communicate so the entire team is on the same page. The defense needs to know what area the block is taking away. The defense will get in position depending on what the block at the net is focusing on. For example, the block could focus on the hard spike down the line. The defense would then get in position to dig the ball that's hit cross court.   
  • Block the Opponent's Best Attacking Option. If your team is fairly good at blocking, one strategy would be to focus on blocking the best attack. To do this, your team needs to know what your opponent likes to do. You need to figure out what is their best attack. If you have a chance to observe your opponent before you play them, you have a chance to come up with a plan for blocking. Most good teams have obvious strengths. Figure out what your opponents strengths are when it comes to spiking. If you're able to force your opponent to do something they prefer not to do, then your team has a better chance of succeeding.

How to Block a Volleyball

Here are 4 tips to improve your blocking skills. 

  1. Always penetrate the net. When you get in blocking position, focus on getting the hands and arms across the net. The more you penetrate into the opponents side, the more crossing space you will block. If you don't penetrate, there's a better chance the ball will be deflected off your hands and arms in a direction you don't want it to go. Penetrate the net and you're more likely to block the ball into the opponents court. 
  2. Learn the positioning for blocking. Focus on the final position you want your body to be in when you block. This means fingers wide and strong. Hands are in the position that will deflect the ball into the opponents court. You must understand the position you need to get into before you start to practice blocking. 
  3. Learn blocking footwork. Practice your blocking footwork so you can become more efficient at moving to blocking. Timing is critical when it comes to blocking. Being comfortable moving the feet will help you time the block. 
  4. Learn timing. As you practice blocking, figure out what good timing is. Sometimes you will be early. Sometimes you will be late. With practice, learn what it's like to be on time. For double blocking, learn how to have good timing and be in sync with your teammate. 

Blocking Drills - What is Blocking in Volleyball

Footwork drills. First, practice the blocking movement without a ball. Focus on perfect form. Penetrate the net each time you block. Have a coach or teammate watch you perform the skill and give you feedback.

Footwork with a ball. Perform the footwork and have a teammate hold a ball above the net. With each repetition, focus on penetrating the net and putting the hands on the ball. Focus on using the hand position that would allow you to direct the ball down into the opponents court. 

Block an Attacker. Have a teammate attack a ball. Do the drill in such a way that allows you to have as much success as possible. For example, the hitter isn't trying to beat the blocker. Have the hitter hit every ball down the line. You block line. The goal is to have successful blocks. Next, have the hitter hit the ball crosscourt. The blocker then focuses on blocking the cross court hit. The blocker needs to learn to understand they aren't blocking the ball. The blocker is focusing on blocking the crossing space that they are anticipating the ball is hit. The blocker needs to get a feel of what it's like to have successful blocks. If the blocker never has any success, then the blocker will always expect to never get a block. If you don't expect to get blocks, then you won't ever get them. 

Block a live player. Have the teams set up to spike to a certain area. Have the blocker take away either cross court or line. Have the blocker and defense communicate so all teammates are on the same page. You could have the drill be cooperative where the teams are trying to keep the ball in play or make the drill more competitive to where the attacker must attack a hard driven ball into the required area of the court. The blocker tries to block this ball that's being hit to a specific area.   

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