It is the middle blocker volleyball position in volleyball where natural athletic ability is the most important. A libero may have excellent ball handling skills and an exceptional reading of the game, while a setter may also possess the same attributes, but for a middle blocker being tall is paramount.
However, don’t think that the natural gift of being tall is all that it takes to play this volleyball position well. No. A middle blocker also needs to possess an excellent vertical jump, perhaps even more so than outside and opposite hitters.
This ensures that the player can block attacks and get above the defender’s blocks to meet the ball at a high point at a high percentage.
Game Reading Ability
A middle blocker must be able to read the game well by anticipating which player is going to hit the ball and where it will be hit to. Players who excel in this position know just how important preparation before the game is.
For example, during the warmup the player should learn the opposition players’ tendencies, such as:
- Is the player short or tall?
- Does the player possess quickness or is he slow?
- What is the player’s vertical jump like?
- What is the player’s weaknesses and how can they be exploited?
During the actual game, a middle blocker may then start taking note of other things, such as whether a certain player is a power hitter or what their favorite shot may be?
Top middle blockers even go beyond this by gaining more vital insight by noticing clues that others may not readily notice. These may include looking at a hitter’s shoulder position or into their eyes to see where they are eyeing up hitting the ball to.
All in all, a middle blocker who sets themselves apart from others plays the game smartly and thinks about every way in which they can get an edge, and often it is down to their reading of the game and not how necessarily how they physically play the game.
Good middle blockers are constantly communicating with their teammates, particularly the back-row players. Players who play on the back-row usually have a better view of everything that is going on out there than those who play at the net, so invaluable insight can be gained from them.
As stated above, the ability to read the game is also key, so a middle blocker may ask their teammates what tendencies, strengths and weaknesses of the opposition they have picked up and how best to exploit them.
It goes without saying that middle blockers should always be alert out there on the court. Of course, those who play in this position need to watch the ball at the net, but what we also mean is that a middle blocker should watch how the play unfolds, particularly the pass.