Go To: Defense Diagrams

volleyball defense position picture

Awesome volleyball defense is what wins games in this sport, despite the fact that there's no better feeling than nailing a hard and decisive killer spike!

As mentioned before in volleyball offense, serve-receive positioning and transitioning are as important to a team's offense as they are to the team's defense.

Basic Principles for Back Row Defense

Perimeter Defense: The most common defensive set-up is called a "perimeter defense".

A perimeter volleyball defense is where back-row defensive players position themselves along the perimeter of the court, with one foot on the line. In this formation players are always ready to move into the center. This way players know when balls are out; and their movements are directed into the court.

The opposite - starting in the center and chasing balls on the line has the predictable outcome of sending balls flying into other courts.

Staying Low and Moving: Back-row defense is played low - knees bent and butt low. Hands should be out in front of your body. Defense is never played standing up. Defenders should constantly be moving through the entire play, adjusting and anticipating the direction of the ball.

Be In Place: When the opposing hitter is attacking the ball, STOP! Even if you are out of position, STOP! Be low and get ready. You have a much better chance of passing the ball from a stationary position, then when you are moving. As the level of play improves, increasingly it's just about getting a good touch on the ball.

Video Explanation of Using a Perimeter Defense


Basic Principles for Blocking

volleyball defensive block

Block the Court: Blocking is about defending your own court; it is not about the opposing team. Blocking is about what's behind you, not what's in front of you. The block needs to take a piece of the court away from the attacker and in doing that directing the ball to the back-row defensive players.

Get Low: Blockers also need to be low, cocked and ready to jump, with their hands in front of their face. This is so that when the hitter attacks only one thing is needed: to jump!

Seal and Penetrate: A good block is set by the outside or opposite blocker, about 5 feet from the antenna. Yes, five feet from the antenna. The middle blocker needs to transition to close the block by feeling for the shoulder of the second blocker. Blockers need to jump together and pike over the net.

Block Straight Up: Jump straight up - even if you're not in position. The defense sets up behind the block. If you drift, the hitter is certain to tip off your hands or find the hole you've created behind you.

When competing, it is wise to under react. Opposing teams WILL have a good hit. Sometimes a player will incorrectly anticipate the ball, or chat too far in one direction. These things will happen - that's okay. Return to the basic principles and set-up before making dramatic changes in your rotation or positioning of each player.

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