For a middle blocker (just as in any other of the volleyball positions) it all starts with getting into the correct ready position.
While this is as simple as equally distributing weight on both feet and keeping your knees bent, we often see players stand up too straight which gives them less time to react as they adjust their position as the ball comes to them.
It’s so important to get into the correct starting position because this allows the player to move more explosively when the time comes to block the ball.
Correct Distance from Net
Standing at the correct position from the net is so important because if a middle blocker stands too close they will find themselves more likely of netting the ball; if standing too far away, penetrating over the net becomes a whole lot more challenging. It is therefore recommended to stand at least a foot from the net and no further than two feet from the net.
Watching the Ball
Closely watching the ball is paramount for blocking well. We’re not just talking about watching the ball as it comes your way (which is of course very important), but more specifically watching the pass. This is so important because it gives a middle blocker key signs in predicting how the play is likely to unfold.
Get the Ball Over the Net
Many middle blockers think that playing the position well is all about physical attributes, such as height and being able to reach high above the net. However, even more important is actually getting the ball over the net.
It is vital that middle blockers are able to communicate well with their teammates, more specifically back-row players. Back row players have a better view of what is going on at the net than front court players, so make sure that this is used to your advantage in the form of feedback.
It’s also a good idea for middle blockers to hone in on the opposition hitters’ tendencies so they are better prepared for what they need to do to block more effectively.
Channeling Emotion Correctly
There’s nothing quite like making a killer block as a middle blocker. It’s a great feeling and there is often temptation to rub it into the opposition’s face. However, this is never a good idea.
Not only is it disrespectful and isn’t inline with the spirit of the game, but it also fuels the opposition’s drive and motivation, which is the last thing you want to do.
Instead, a wise middle blocker will direct the energy of making a killer block towards their teammates to fire up their own team rather than the opposition.
Learning from Others
Watching videos of excellent middle blockers is always good practice. We recommend watching videos of David Lee and Max Holt – two of the best players in this position in the game, and with no shortage of videos on YouTube either.
Not only will watching videos of the best middle blockers help players become more motivated and inspired to play better, but they will also be able to pick up a few tips along the way by closely watching their footwork, technique and the way these players read the game.