In this blog, I want to talk to you about how to improve your block in volleyball. As with any skill or skill breakdown, it’s best to focus on one thing at a time. It’d be difficult to recite the alphabet backward whilst juggling. First, you must nail saying the alphabet backward, THEN you learn how to juggle or vice versa. The point is, you’re going to improve one skill at a time more efficiently in the end by doing it one at a time. Learning to do both at the same time will leave you more frustrated than choosing one skill first.
Now, that being said, here are my top tips for improving your block. If you’re already great with your hands and need better footwork, focus on that. I think you get the point by now.
4 Blocking tips for volleyball players
1. Focus on the movements of players
This is a skill that you will constantly be trying to improve. As the level of volleyball goes higher, so does the need for your eye work to improve. The faster you can identify where to set up your block, the better blocker you will become.
The pattern for your eyes should go: ball S E T T E R ball H I T T E R
The amount of time you spend looking at the ball is the shortest. See where it’s going but get eyes on the player FAST. The player will tell you all the information that you need.
The ball in relation to the setter tells you where the set is most likely to go. Ask yourself, where is the ball in relation to their body? Where do they like to set? How much time do I have to make a block?
- Even the best setters in the world have a “tell” (look for an arched back, low elbows, etc.)
- The further the ball is in front of them, the more likely they are to set in front of them.
- A pass further off the net both eliminate attackers and decreases the set speed.
- A set given from a platform is the slowest of all
2. Read the set
Next, you will need to check where the ball is going again. Now that you know which player is being set, you need to identify what kind of set they’re getting:
- Is it fast and low?
- High? Wide?
- Tight to the net?
Now as quickly as possible, look at the person attacking the ball. Where is their approach leading them? What is their relationship to the set? What kind of attack does the set allow?
Line yourself up accordingly. A hitter that likes to hit the line and can hit cross-court should be taken “head up”. That means you get your body in line with the hitter and the ball on your head. You are taking the most away from this player by cutting off their line option and making space for another blocker to take their cross. A heavy cross-court killer will likely be taken “right hand”. This means that you leave them the line, focusing instead to put more hands covering the cross-court. Your right hand is on the ball rather than your head.
The last thing I like to see is their hand contacting the ball. For men’s players, this isn’t always possible. So whatever you do, the last thing you should have sight of is the player’s body, and the location of the set.
To block in volleyball you will need to improve eye work
Improving eye work takes concentration. Don’t be discouraged. Call out what you see and do your best to see and interpret the players as fast as possible! Having fast eyes will make the rest of your job easy.
How your hands end up over the net is critical to the success of the block in volleyball. You can see everything correctly, line-up great and then fail because your hands are wacky. Your hands should be wide, (but not too wide to lose strength) and strong. You can flex your fingers!
You want as much of your hands and arms over the net as you can possibly get. To achieve this imagine shooting them across the plane of the net instead of sailing them up there casually. Drifting your arms upwards to “time” the attack is risky business. Lead your arms with your hands. If you’re having difficulty because you’re chronically late, try this:
From the start position keep your arms bent at the elbows. I like to be about that same distance from the net. Relax your shoulders. As you begin to make your block move, don’t sweep your hands low, keep your elbows close to you. Instead of gaining momentum with an extended arm swing, keep it shorter by maintaining the bend in your elbows. Lead with the hands and get them over the next first.
The second item of business, shape your hands and use your arms to face back into the court. Don’t make yourself a target. Be a wall! Strong fingers and a little flexion in the back of your shoulders will protect you from the hard hits.
4. Want the Block
Blocking is complicated. It requires interpretation and precision. Use your body to its advantage by seeing the set direction and the player attacking the ball. Most importantly, you gotta want it! A big part of effective blocking is the desire to do it. It’s not rocket science. Any volleyball player can become a great in the block. It just takes practice and the desire to do it. Earn your points!
We hope you got some helpful blocking tips you can use in the following practice. Things to remember are to focus on the movement of the opponent players, Read the set effectively, use hands, hold fingers tight and strong, and have the desire to make a block. Try to be positioned as straight as possible when jumping. Make slight angles with your hands, and don’t fly. You can be sure that way you will make many more blocks!