Understanding the Basics of a Volleyball Block

Proper form and location can make the difference between a key block and a miss.

Blockers are responsible for taking away certain areas of the court from the hitter. This helps the defense limit the amount of court that needs to be covered behind the blocker.

“How a blocker’s hands are formed can determine if they successfully block the ball, take away area or get tooled,” says Kristee Porter, a former USA National Team member.

The key for proper blocker hand position is high thumbs. This can be practiced by getting up on the hitter so that you can execute the hand and arm actions without worrying about your footwork or jump.

Remember that your hands should be paddles, not flippers.

“Flippers are hands closed and pointed towards the ceiling,” Porter explains. “With paddles, we want to make sure thumbs are high, fingers [are] spread and wrists are tight in preparation for the attack.”

Next, you should make sure that your hands block independently. Some players have a tendency to drift their hands as they block. This is when both hands follow the path of the ball. To make sure your hands block independently, one should remain stationary, taking away the line, while your other hand will reach into the seam – this is the area between you and a teammate in the front row. This will block more area of the court from the attacker.

It’s also important that your hands should shoot, not swing, upward.

“When hands swing, there is a tendency to cause net error,” Porter says. “Instead, we want the hands to shoot over the net quickly.”

Finally, you want to make sure to present your hands before the hitter attacks. You want to have your hands in position before the hitter has a chance to follow through on the swing. It takes practice to get your timing down so that you’re early with your hands.

Keys to remember:

  • Make sure your thumbs are high.
  • Make them into paddles not flippers.
  • Your hands should work independently.
  • Shoot hands over the net, don’t swing.
  • Present your hands before the attack.

Work hard on these different skills as a blocker so that they become part of your muscle memory.

There are several factors that contribute to a successful block. One of the most important is being able to read a hitter.