5 Volleyball Blocking Drills to Teach Perfect Timing
A good defense is predicated by a quality block.
While good passing and quality ball control are useful skills on defense, a successful block is the best way to stop or slow an attack.
Volleyball blocking drills should be utilised to hone blocking technique, reaction time, and the ability to read plays.
Blocking can be a challenging skill to practice, as many teams have just a few blocking players.
The following 5 volleyball blocking drills will incorporate blocking work along with work for other position players, ensuring team improvement with each drill.
1. Block, Reset, Fall Back
How it Works:
A middle blocker will execute a block and immediately land, reset, and then fall back to cover a ball that has been blocked up into the air. A player opposite the blocker stands on a box, with a volleyball just above the net. The blocker will jump and touch the ball with both hands. As soon as the touch is made the ball is tossed up into the air, for the blocker to get to and pass.
This drill keeps blockers honest to be able to cover their area in the event a ball is popped up into the air. Many balls end up hitting the ground, as the player responsible for coverage is at the net unaware of the ball.
- A blocker at the net
- A coach or player opposite the blocker on a box
- The individual at the net should have a ball held just above the net
- Someone should be available to hand the coach or player on the box balls
- The coach or player on the box holds the ball just above net height.
- At the signal, the blocker jumps up and touches the ball with both hands as if executing a block.
- As soon as the ball is touched, the coach or player tosses it into the air just behind the blocker or drops it directly down at the blocker.
- The blocker must get back and under the ball to make a good pass.
- Blockers often get excited about a “touch” and forget that they are responsible to cover their area. This drill encourages them to stay in the play, even after a touch.
- Middle blockers should be worked heavily with this drill as there is often minimal coverage for their area.
- Blockers should be coached to bump the ball up high to give the setter time to react to it.
2. Watch the Hitter
How it Works:
A ball is tossed from behind the blocker to a hitter on the opposite side of the court. The blocker tracks the hitter and times the block accordingly. The hitter attacks the ball as if it were a set.
This drill eliminates the ability of the blocker to “ball watch”. The goal is to train the blocker to track the hitter and the approach of the hitter to set the block.
- A coach or designated player to toss balls over the net
- A basket of balls for each person tossing balls
- A blocker at each outside spot
- A hitter on the opposite side of the net from the blocker
- This drill can utilise both outside spots simultaneously for more repetitions.
- The ball is tossed from behind the blocking player over the net.
- The hitter attacks the ball as they would an attackable overpass.
- The blocker will track the hitter and set the block accordingly.
Competitive Play - This can be turned into a competition with each block counting as two points and each missed block counting as two points for the hitter. The first player to 20 points wins and sits out the subsequent conditioning drill.
- Outside blockers should be focused on the attacker across the net. This drill allows them to work on that skill, as they cannot see the ball until it is too late.
- Emphasise tracking the hips of the attacker and setting the block to the outside hip of a right-handed hitter or the inside hip of a left-handed hitter (reversed for the left side). This is an easy point to focus on that will allow blockers to align the block effectively.
3. Cover the Net
How it Works:
Blockers react to a “free ball” tossed over the net at various depths with one of three options: kill it, block it, or set it.
The simple drill emphasises quick decision making by blockers when a free ball is just over the net and in the area a blocker is responsible for.
- Three blockers at the net
- A coach or designated player across the net from each blocker past the 3-meter line
- Each person tossing balls should have access to a supply of balls to toss
- The individual tossing the ball yells free ball and tosses the ball over the net at the blocker.
- The blocker decides if the ball should be attacked, blocked down, or set backward to run the offense.
- The individual tossing the ball should toss the ball to different depths each time, creating variation in decision making.
- Ensure blockers are aware that if the ball can be attacked, it should be.
- If the ball is coming quickly or is very tight to the net, the blocker should be redirecting the ball down with a two-handed block.
- If the ball is well off the net or the blocker is not ready to attack, the ball should be set backward to facilitate running the offense.
4. Triple Block Exhaustion
How it Works:
Teams play six on six volleyball with a free ball initiating play rather than a serve. The teams compete but the defensive side must execute a triple block on each attack. A point is awarded for a kill or a block. The first team to three points wins the drill.
This drill enables teams to work on setting a triple block and recovering to offensive positions quickly. The drill is exhausting for front row players, as the movement required for a triple block expends a lot of energy.
- Two teams of six
- A coach or player available to toss “free balls” to initiate play
- A basket of balls available
- Extra players should shag balls to keep play moving
- A “free ball” is tossed into play.
- The team that receives the ball runs a normal attack.
- The defensive team sets a triple block.
- If the ball is killed, the attacking team gets a point.
- If the ball is blocked, the defending team gets a point.
- Play resumes as normal.
- If an error is made or ball is hit out, no points are awarded.
- On dead balls, a new free ball should be put into play to the opposite team as the previous free ball.
- This drill can become exhausting for players. Alternate front and back rows as needed, to ensure the quality of the drill and player safety.
- Encourage blockers to be efficient with movement to decrease the likeliness of fatigue.
- Once the block is set and executed, players should go directly to their hitting positions. Often, players will return to base and then attempt to get back to hit.
5. Don’t Fear the Seam
How it Works:
Teams run a typical offense with a quick outside set, encouraging the middle blocker to get outside quickly. The blockers will tandem block the outside, both going straight up with the hands. This will create a seam that must be covered by a defensive player.
This drill focuses on both correct blocking techniques and appropriate backcourt defense.
- Teams should be set up for six on six volleyball
- A coach or designated player to toss the ball into play
- A basket of balls
- The ball is tossed into play on either side of the net.
- The ball is played out to an attack, ideally a quicker outside set.
- The middle blocker tandem blocks with the outside blocker and both go straight up with the hands (do not drop the hands into the seam).
- The appropriate defensive player will read the seam and attempt to dig the ball.
- The drill stops with the dig and is reset for a new toss.
Competitive Play - Each dig is worth three points. Each time a blocker drops a hand into the seam costs the team two points. Each successful attack is worth one point. The first team to 12 points wins the drill.
- Hold the middle blocker accountable to go straight up with the block. Often, a middle will be late to a quick outside set and is tempted to “drop a hand” into the seam. This allows the player to be easily tooled.
- The defensive players should be prepared to cover the seam, as a proper blocking technique discourages the blocker dropping a hand into the seam.
A good block is the best way to impact the game plan of your opponent.
Blocking is a skill that requires frequent practice and many repetitions.
Use these 5 volleyball blocking drills to ensure your team is ready to set that big block when the game is on the line.