When my partner and I are split-blocking, how do we decide who will block during the play?
Lauren Fendrick: Typically within a match one blocker/defender combination will be more effective against a particular opponent. If that is the case, then you should decide beforehand to use your more effective defense as much as possible. You can also decide during the play, but as with most things in beach volleyball, communication is key. You can also have set rules, like always have the attacker stay at the net and block and the setter retreat to defense. Or you can consider tendencies. If your team is pulling a lot and the attacker tends to hit toward the puller, you can put your better transition-attacker at the net in hopes of getting a chance to pull, get a dig, and smash down a transition set.
Even for teams with a designated blocker, sometimes the play becomes chaotic and the defender gets stuck at the net or the blocker can’t get back to the net. I’ve seen many “defenders” get blocks and many “blockers” get digs in these situations, so don’t panic if you are forced to play outside your designated role. It’s hugely important for all players to get practice blocking and defending because it enhances their understanding of each role and might prove useful in crunch time. Use proper basic fundamentals and you can still put up a good defense. If all else fails, my partner, Brooke Sweat, recommends rock-paper-scissors during the middle of the play to see who will block. Good luck!
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Originally published in October 2014