Rapids Volleyball

Wainuiomata Rapids Volleyball Inc.

Defensive Troubleshooting

Posted by Rapids Volleyball on Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Here is another article from Volleyball Magazine, February 1998. Former USA Men’s Volleyball Player & Olympian Aldis Berzins, explains a few things about setting up a defence strategy and why. There are many types of defences, Middle-Up, Perimeter, Counter etc. Berzins goes over a little bit about the “Rotating Defence”.

Defensive TroubleshootingAldis Berzins 
by Aldis Berzins

Spectacular defence can get a lot of oohs and ahs out of a crowd. But what’s most important is that it can turn the momentum in your team’s favor. If it’s late in a match, and you dig a ball straight up that’s pounded by the opponent with nobody up, it can be the difference between winning and losing.


Defensive BaseAfter the ball has been served by your team, everyone should be in their base position.

The middle back should be in the center of the court, one step from the endline. The left back and right back should be one step in from the sideline and one step in from the 10-foot line. The left front, middle front and right front should have their hands up and be ready to block.

It is critical to discipline yourself to be in these base positions every time and be ready to dig the ball.



In the standard rotation defense, on a high outside set, the left-front should work hard to get off the net, one step behind the 10-foot line and one step inside the sideline. It’s okay to give up the radical sharp angle shot that lands inside the 10-foot line because only world-class players can hit that shot, and even at that level, it’s rare. Your objective is to get in the flight path of the shot that is most likely to be hit.

When the left-front gets outside the 10-foot line, it allows the left-back to drop back and cover the deeper cross-court angle shot, which is an area many attackers like to hit. In this defense, the left-back usually concedes the corner shot. But if the opposing attackers are continually hitting balls to the corner, the left-back should shift over to cut off the deep corner shot.

Rotating Defence

If you’re a younger player and you’re in the left-front position, it might be hard for you to get behind the 10-foot line, especially on a quick set to the outside. That’s okay. Take large steps and get back as far as you can. You should attempt to straddle the 10-foot line.

Remember, if you’re the left-back or the left-front, any ball that’s hit above your waist is going out. When this happens, pretend you’re playing dodge-ball and get out of the way.

Be sure not to creep in toward the attacker. Most shots are hit within three feet of the sideline or endline, so you should always guard the perimeter. Also, it’s easier to defend moving forward than backward.


As a middle back, you have more ground to cover defensively than anybody else on the court, so it’s important that you don’t get sucked too far in. If you do, you won’t be in position to pick up balls that are deflected off the block. You’re probably best off standing one step inside the endline. That’s far enough back to cover deflections but close enough so you can react and get to an overpass or setter dump.

If you’re not particularly quick-footed, you might want to take one step back and stand right on the endline. That’ll give you an extra step to chase down balls that are hit deep off the block.


No matter where you are, you should freeze when the hitter contacts the ball. This is true even if you’re out of position. Ideally, you want to be in a stable defensive position: low to the ground and ready to come up and meet the ball. A lot of inexperienced players get caught going down into their defensive position as the ball is being hit, which usually results in their missing the dig. Be brave, not afraid. You won’t wind up in the hospital if you get hit by a volleyball. The best defensive players are always thinking about getting the ball up, not about whether their nose is going to be crooked after the play. Have your hands in the down position, but be ready to take the ball overhand if it’s up around your face.


1. When the blocker takes your area, you may be tempted to make a quick move to cover open court. Don’t. You don’t have time to run somewhere else. Just hold your ground and anticipate a shot off the block. Trying to make a last-second move will result in your moving as the ball is being hit, a big no-no.

2. In the rotation defense, if the blockers are covering the line, your job as the right-back should be to release for the tip.

3. If you’re the middle-back and the block is split, hold your ground. Stay in your good defensive position.

4. If the right-side blocker is the only blocker up, coaches usually teach them to block the cross-court angle shot. In this situation, if you’re the line digger, you should prepare for a ball to be pounded directly at you. If you’re the middle-back, shade toward the line side to help the line digger.

5. With nobody up, it’s just you against the hitter. Don’t turn your back and hope not to get hit. Instead, you should lean into the shot and hope to be hit somewhere so that the ball goes up. Remember, a hard-hit volleyball doesn’t cause life-threatening injuries.


One Response to “Defensive Troubleshooting”

  1. Samantha said

    Nice blog, i like it, its informative,
    i will visit his blog more often.
    i like your article specially about
    Defensive Troubleshooting


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