You being strong defensively is absolutely critical for your team to be successful. There is nothing worse than the other team hitting an off-speed attack or a tip and you were not in proper defensive position or aggressive enough to dig the ball. You are basically giving the other team a free point. But it is even worse than that. The other team getting easy points kills any momentum your team has.
However this can work on the flip slide. The other team gets set a ball out to the left side. Your middle blocker gets totally faked out and you are left to dig the other team’s heavy hitter with only one block in the way. You cushion the heavy hit with your platform, sending the dig a couple feet past the attack line. Your setter fires the ball to your right side and absolutely drops a bomb scoring your team the point.
Your team goes nuts!
Because your defense just took a point away from the other team that they should have scored on.
The purpose of this article is to hammer home three things that will help you become a better defender. The best part is I am going to be giving you a couple exercises that you can do on your own to improve right now!
You need to be stopped when the attacker makes contact with the ball!
This is absolutely critical. If you are moving your feet when the opposing team’s attacker is making contact with the ball you are drastically reducing the number of balls you can get to. If your feet are moving, this means your bodyweight and energy is going in a certain direction. If the attacker hits the ball anywhere but where you are anticipating then you are screwed.
What you can do to improve on this is working on your eye-sequencing. This just means what you are looking at and when. As a defender you should be watching the ball going into the setter’s hands. As the setter releases the ball you are going to transition from your base (starting position) to your appropriate defensive zone. As you make this transition you want to be watching the ball coming into the attacker’s arm-swing and stopping your feet just before they make contact with the ball. After they make contact you want your technique and athleticism to take over.
A tip to help you improve on this is to actually say “stop” (or some other cue word) as the attacker makes contact. This will force you to work on your eye-sequencing and getting your feet set at the appropriate time.
You need to have the appropriate mobility to be a dynamic defender!
If your body is overly tight and restricted then you will compensate and not sit in a healthy defensive position. You will either be too tall or have a serious hunch back. Either case equates to less digs. And then when you actually make your movement towards the ball, it will be stiff and robotic.
Pull Back Butt Kick + Side Lunge + Overhead Reach should be added to your warm up before every practice, tournament, and match.
You need to be fast and fluid on your feet!
To be a dynamic defender you need to be stopped when the attacker contacts the ball, have the appropriate mobility to execute the technique properly, and you need to be fast and fluid on your feet.
Lateral Drive + Shuffle + Sprint is an amazing volleyball specific speed and agility exercise.
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