Depending on the number of players, this drill can be done 6 on 6, or with hitting lines against a team of 6 or 3 blockers. A coach inputs an easy ball to the attacking side, which can consist of hitting lines with an assigned passer, or 6 players in position ready to play the rally out. Since this is a blocking drill, the assigned passer should mix up the passes between perfect, overpasses, and high off the net. This will help develop the blocker’s ability to read the pass. I prefer the blockers start in a bunch formation so they have the ability to swing block if they choose; and always showing a consistent front, which makes it more challenging for the attacking team to find a hole in the defense. Now the type of pass will determine what the block does next. The most likely scenarios are:
#1 Perfect pass (vs. slow offense):
Blockers stay bunched, track the hitter in their zone, and read the setter. Since the ball will be high and slow to the antennas in this scenario, the block can stay bunched to help on attacks from the middle but still have enough time to make a blocking move to the pins.
#2 Perfect pass (vs. fast offense):
Now it gets a little trickier. Since the blockers on the outside need to be able to get to the pin to defend a quicker set, the blockers may spread in this situation. As a blocker, your first priority in a perfect pass situation is to defend the hitter in your zone. This will often times lead to the blockers spreading to their pins and only making a shuffle move to block.
#3 Bad Pass (behind 10 foot line):
Blockers should stay bunched and be patient. Too many times in this situation blockers will start moving in the direction they think the ball will be set. The problem with this is the ball could still potentially be set in the opposite direction and now they are out of position. Or if they guess the right way but shuffle too close to the antenna, they can no longer make a strong blocking move. Blockers need to be very patient in this situation and let the play develop. Regardless of where the set goes, it will be a high ball that the blockers will have plenty of time to set up a solid block. My rule is that if you think you know which way the ball is going in this situation, take one step in that direction. This allows you to still make a strong blocking move or if you guess wrong, you are not caught very far out of position.
Blockers need to read the ball quickly and make a decision. If it is close enough to the net, they should go up and attack the ball. However if they would have to jump/reach backwards to attack it, then it is more efficient to step off the net and treat the overpass as a free ball and let their setter run the offense.
At this point, the blockers work on getting quality repetitions and staying consistent in their footwork and arm/hand work. Make sure to emphasize to the hitters that this drill is for blocking so try and limit the amount of balls hit out or in the net. I prefer not to keep score in this drill and just wave the blockers through after getting 5 controlled touches on the ball (an actual block or a soft touch that continues the rally). However, if this drill is done with 6 on 6, score can be kept and it’s also a good way to work on transition offense.
Originally published in January 2011