Position: Middle Blocker
Role: Offense and Defense
Height Requirement: Tall
The middle blocker’s main job is to block opposing hitters, wherever they might hit. Starting in the middle of the court, the middle must be able to read the opposing setter and move quickly toward an opposing attacker in order to get her hands above the net and penetrate over.
Perhaps the most important part of being a middle blocker is the eye sequence. The sequence you should follow is listed below, as stated by Jeff Nygaard, a three-time Olympian and two-time NCAA MVP.
- The Pass/Setter: When the other team has passed or dug a ball, where is it going? If it is going tight, be ready for a joust on the net. If not, look for their setter who is undoubtedly headed toward wherever that pass may be.
- Opposing Middle Blocker: After the reception or dig on the other side of the net, you should be looking for the opposing middle blocker. What are they doing? Are they moving around for a slide? Are they getting ready to run a push? Always be communicating with your team during this, letting your teammates know where they are most likely going to need to block.
- Opposing Setter: Once you’ve made the adjustment for their middle, focus on the setter again. Often times a setter’s body language will tell you where they are going to set the ball. Are they learning back? Are they so far off the net that the only thing they can do is set the outside ball?
- The Hitter: Once the setter has set the ball, turn your focus onto the hitter who is going to attack it. There is no need to watch the ball because the hitter’s body will tell you where the ball is. If they are coming inside, the set was inside and you thus should be inside to be in the proper position to block. Keep your head level and your shoulders level.
Middle Hitting Technique
This video provides some examples of blocking footwork as trained by Beth Launiere. Utah head coach Beth Launiere has successfully led the University of Utah volleyball team through plenty of obstacles during her 21-year tenure. However, an entirely new set of hurdles await Launiere and the Utes in the fall of 2011: the Pac-12 Conference. Launiere (425-238, .641) took over in 1990, looking to straighten out a team that won only one match in 1989. In 21 years, Launiere has sculpted the Utes into a top-25 power. The Utes have qualified for the NCAA Tournament 10 times, won six Mountain West Conference titles (regular season and tournament combined) and have recorded 13, 20-win seasons.
The drills in this video are by Bob Bertucci. Bertucci is known and respected both nationally and internationally with more than 30 years of coaching and teaching experience in volleyball. Bob is currently the head women’s coach at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA. He has also served as head coach at Temple University, Rutgers-The State University of New Jersey, the University of Tennessee and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. In addition to his collegiate coaching, Bob is currently working with the U. S. National Program coaching, conducting tryouts and scouting. He has coached the 1999 U.S. Women’s World University Games team in Spain; 1985 Women’s World University Games team in Kobe, Japan; two U.S. Olympic Festivals and the U.S. Women’s Junior National Team. He has just been named Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year for 2002 as well as in 1997 and 1999. He was also selected in 1988, ’90 and ’92 as the E.I.V.A. Coach of the Year and the 1984 Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year. Bob’s teams have made 12 NCAA appearances, including a trip to the Final Four in 1990, and have won 10 conference championships, the most recent being the 2002 Atlantic 10 Regular Season championship and the 2002 Conference tournament championship. He has developed and coached eight All-Americans, 46 All-Conference athletes and has authored more than a half-dozen books and videos on the sport of volleyball.