Proactive Blocking

Blocking is a crucial strategy and technique in volleyball. The homographic confusion often talks about the technique solely, about the jump and penetration, but it’s just part of the overal defensive strategy. Effective players know to efficiently tailor the play to produce the same point scoring outcome even without needing to perform the stereotypical jump at the net.

There’s a certain appeal to being a traditional blocker — the dedicated blocker is in a perceptual no-lose situation. You don’t have to see the rest of your team to adjust to them – they have to adjust to you. If you reach up and miss, it’s somebody else’s responsibility on defense. If you do touch the ball, you’re a hero, often regardless of the quality of that touch. You’re encouraged to keep trying to touch the ball. Moreover, since you cannot see behind you, the area you imagine you are occupying is as large as you’d like it to be.

It’s easy to escape responsibility as a blocker. The common perspective is that the blocking is reactive – what you decide is determined by the attacker.  What improves blocking is not to avoid responsibility but to seek it out. Be a proactive part of your team’s defense. Jumping isn’t the main reason for the role, but the smart decision of working with your team to cement the defense. Rather than expecting assistance in your pursuit of the glorious stuff block, let go of the glory. Instead of turning your back to your team, maintain active nonverbal communication — make your choices based on how it will elevate your teammates’ game. Most importantly, don’t waste the jumps. There’s a finite number of them.


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