Today we will discuss the various types of blocking. We won't be covering how to block, but instead focusing on the differences between swing blocking and traditional blocking and which blocking scheme you should use.
What is Traditional Blocking?Traditional blocking is the most common blocking scheme you'll see used. It has been used for years and is the easier of the two team blocking patterns.
How to execute the traditional block:All 3 front row players should be facing the net. One player on each end of the net, and one in the middle. (Technically each "wing" blocker should be around an arms length from the sideline.) The wing blockers stay where they are and only block the hitter that is across the net from them. There is very little movement. Simply a side step to get in front of the hitter, and a jump to block. The middle blocker is responsible for blocking every opposing attack, no matter where along the net it comes from. To get out to the sides of the court to assist the wing blockers, the middle will keep their hands up and do middle blocker footwork. (Step, crossover, hop or Step, crossover, close.) When the middle arrives, ready to jump and block, both blockers, the middle and wing, will jump in unison straight up. That's about it when it comes to traditional blocking. This is the most common form and you have likely seen it done even if you didn't know you were watching it.
What is Swing Blocking?Swing blocking has been added to the game in recent years. It is common amongst college and international teams, but much less common at the high school and club levels.
How to execute a swing block:
There are a lot more moving parts to swing block, but to start, the blockers need to be positioned in a tighter formation. All 3 blockers face the net. The middle should start in the middle, and the wing blockers should start slightly further than an arms distance from the middle, on both sides. To block middle, the middle simply jumps to block. There is no change here. To block hitters on the outsides of the court, the middle takes a step towards their teammate wing blocker, and they both perform the same steps in the same direction and jump at the same time. To execute the swing block steps, think about doing a hitting approach, except do it sideways. If you're going left, do the steps: left, right, left, jump. To go right, step right, left, right, jump. Your arms will drop down by your side, and back behind you, then thrust forward and upward over the net as you jump. This is in stark contrast to traditional blocking where your hands remain up by your face.
This is an example of a swing block by Utah:
Which Blocking Scheme Should We Use?
If you're new to blocking, begin with the traditional block. There is less moving parts and therefore you can focus on form and technique to get up and over the net, instead of focusing on synchronized footwork. If you are a more seasoned team swing blocking might be a good fit for you. Swing blocking is more dynamic, allowing athletes to get up higher and further over the net when they jump. I would advise you to be cautious on approaching the swing block too early. While it gives your athletes more gusto, it is harder to perform. If you have a couple girls who can not perform the skill very well, it will upset the whole blocking scheme.
As popular and cool looking as swing blocking is, many of the best teams have already gone away from it, or have modified it to fit their programs and athletes needs. Hope you enjoyed this episode of The Dig, be sure you check out all the other episodes and get your volleyball questions answered.
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