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Blocking Your Way to the AVP Tour

jon_guidaA friend of mine is about to break on to the AVP Tour. Big Jon as he’s known by the locals of South Carolina. A natural athlete that played professional basketball in Europe and picked up volleyball in his mid-twenties. A 6’7″ frame along with a 35″ vertical doesn’t hurt either. He’s unsure of his blocking game and came to me looking for a few pointers. Following is my advice.

There is so much about blocking. Here is some thought, perspective, and insight.

Compare your blocking game with the greats. Phil Dalhausser, in 2008 he led the AVP Tour with 2.12 blocks per game. Lambert, 2.04 blocks per game. Gibb 1.96. How many blocks per game are you getting? Two or three blocks a game is not a big number, so don’t put too much pressure
on yourself to HAVE to make blocks. In a game, you could get 30 block attempts (hits against you…this includes shots). Based on 2 blocks per game, that means 7% of all attacks against you will result in a
block (that means out of those 30 block attempts, 28 will be hit around
you). Make it a goal to get 3 blocks a game which correlates to 1 block for every 10 attempts (this would be phenomenal if you accomplished this goal).

phil_dalhausser_blocking Don’t beat yourself up mentally when you don’t get a block. Take another perspective. Did you force your opponent to alter their swing? Maybe their swing was not a 100% swing or you forced a shot. Accomplishing this goal can be as effective as a block. Trust your teammate for defense.

Another point to consider, are you trying so hard to get a block that you are getting used? Are you reaching too far, stretching yourself to get a block? Are your hands out of position? Are your feet not in position making you late? A bad, undisciplined block is as good as a kill for the opponent. Don’t give away easy points this way. If you are late or your hands are out of position, don’t make matters worse. Go with the block you have set-up and trust your teammate to make a sweet dig.

At the University of Minnesota, READING the game was a major training priority. One of the things I learned under Hall of Fame Head Coach Mike Hebert is “PID”. PID is an acronym for Pattern IDentification. PID is a lot more complex in the indoor game, but some basic principles can be transferred to the outdoor game. The basics of PID is READING the type of pass. The pass often times will dictate how you will block Three types of passes to consider:

ON, OFF, or OVER

1) ON the net – This is a very good pass, you immediately know you will have to set up to block.

2) OFF the net – This is a pass where you have to make a judgement call of whether or not to block.

3) OVER or Tight pass – Get up to block the 2nd ball over.

Watch the first three passes in this clip and read what I have for each pass below:

Pass 1 – The first is an “ON” the net pass. Here the blocker recognized the good pass. Mirrored or followed his hitter (notice how he moved with his hitter immediately) and then he knew he had to set-up a good block.

Pass 2 – This is an OVER or tight pass. Notice how the blocker did not recognize the pass and thus was hit over. If the blocker read the over pass correctly, it would have been an easy block.

Pass 3 – This was part of the rally, in transition. This was another OVER or
tight pass. Again the blocker made an incorrect read and the other team scored an easy point on a 2nd ball over shot.

Of these three passes, the blocker only made one correct read. If he made a correct read on all three, he easily could have had three blocks (your goal).

Pass Identification or PID – ON, OFF, or OVER. Do this for every pass to the net: on an opponent serve receive and during a rally (often more important). Correct reads cause correct reactions, resulting in points.

This is lesson 1. The mental aspect of the game is as, if not more, important than the physical. I’ll get you some drills. More to come 🙂

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