Volleyball Defense: Knowing When to Dig or Pursue

Get a defensive advantage over your opponent by reading their body language.

Defensively, reading a hitter’s arm should trigger whether you should dig or pursue. To do this effectively, you want to watch the hitter’s arm and hand for clues. Depending on what you see, you’ll either stay and dig or aggressively pursue.

If the hitter is going to tip (dink), you want to recognize this early and pursue. These are clues to look for so you can determine if the hitter is tipping:

  • Slow arm: Hitters will, at times, show their arm early and give away the tip.
  • Bad set: If there is a bad set, the hitter may have no choice but to tip.
  • Low or dropped elbow: When a hitter is going to swing, their elbow will stay high.
  • Hand tell from the hitter: Giving away the tip early. This is the most common clue.

If you see any of these clues, you should release early and pursue quickly to handle the tip.

Players often focus so much on skill and forget that there is a mental component. It’s not always the most physical team that wins. By reading on defense, you can be one step ahead of your opponent.

To help improve a team’s defense, its blockers must always come ready to play. They’ll need to have their hands in proper positions to help take areas of the court away from their opponents.