Volleyball Defense: How to Read a Hitter When Blocking

By knowing what to look for in your opponent’s body language, you can improve your chances of making a block.

The main job of a pin blocker is to set the position of the block so that the middle blocker can close. In order to have a good position, it’s crucial for you to read the approach of the hitter.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself when reading the hitter:

  • What kind of set is it?
    • Typically, when the ball is set to the pin, the hitter’s tendency is to hit line because the ball is taking them in this direction. When the ball is set short, their tendency is to go with the ball and hit cross court.
  • What is the location of the ball?
    • The location of the ball prior to the set may give you an idea as to whether the ball will be set to the pin or short.
  • Did the hitter pass the ball first?
    • This can impact the timing of the hitter’s approach.
  • What is the angle of the hitter’s approach?
    • This is typically the hitter’s tell of the shot they want to hit.

All of these components will help you to read the hitter and increase your chances of making the block. Remember, getting a block doesn’t always mean it has to be perfect. Getting a good touch can help your defense as well. Make sure you’re lining up and taking away the power shot, as this is key to helping your defense. You work as a cohesive unit, so you always need to work together to take away a hitter’s shot to help your defense play around you.

Reading a hitter is a great opportunity for you to set up the first line of defense. Keep in mind that a good block isn’t just about making the block. Another goal of blocking is taking away the hitter’s power shot and making them uncomfortable so that you can succeed as a team.

To excel in volleyball defense, you’ll want to be able to read your opponent’s body language. This can help when figuring out if you need to dig or pursue.