Middle blocker in volleyball: the best explanation

In volleyball, one of the most difficult positions to play is that of middle blocker. A middle blocker must be quick and aggressive on defense as well as excellent passers to help their setter. They need to anticipate where their teammates are going to be and make the right decisions, all while being able to block a lot of shots at the net and get in for an easy offense or equalizer. Here are some tips for becoming a better middle blocker from today.

What is a middle bocker?

A middle blocker has to block the ball on the first row. They are standing just behind the net (and centerline). They jump when the other team attacks. Getting this timing right is essential and requires a lot of practice. Middle blockers are holding their arms over the net so that the ball doesn’t get stuck between themselves and the net. They are not allowed to touch the net!

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Responsabilities of a middle blocker

As a middle blocker, your jobs and responsibilities are many. It includes:  

  • Keep a close tab on the hitters once the ball is served.
  • Make a perfect reading of the setter and conclude where they intend to send the ball.
  • Decide where you wish to block and enter the net with your arms.
  • In the event, the ball gets by you, swiftly get back in the transition mode and resort for a quick set.

Most blockers use read blocking instead of guess blocking. Read blocking is trying to ‘read’ the game and predict where the attack is going to happen. Guess blocking is just running to the net without looking at the game too much. Guess blocking is faster but less precise. It is used when the setters and hitters are playing very fast.

It is essential that blockers get their technique right. Let’s go over this with Olympic medal winner for Team USA, Rachael Adams:

Getting the technique right include a plethora of things like:

  • Make a proper distribution of your weight preferably on both of your feet.
  • Choose to keep your knees bent. It will aid you in reacting fast and making necessary adjustments in your position as soon as the ball comes.
  • Always hit the ball judiciously and properly.
  • Spread your hands and fingers open
  • When it comes to the trajectory of the ball, ensure it is downward.

·   The main thing is the timing though. Middle blockers have to be able to read the game and jump at the right moment. Jumping takes several steps so middle blockers have to anticipate what is going to happen so that they start at the right moment. Keep in mind that volleyball is a very fast-paced game. Therefore middle blockers won’t always succeed. They can get support from other players on the front row. This can result in a double or even triple block.   

Middle blockers are generally one of the tallest players on a team. The net is hanging quite high in volleyball and middle blockers need to be able to get their arms over it. This is why you won’t see a lot of blocks in junior teams as the players are not always able to go over the net. Being tall makes this easier. There are often two middle blockers per team but this depends on the strategy that a team is using.

A middle blocker will mainly defend whereas a middle hitter will focus on attacking. It is possible that middle blockers need to attack if the hitters are unable to do so. Volleyball is often quite unpredictable as the ball can land anywhere on the court. It is possible that players are not able to control the ball well and then they need to improvise. Players need to be able to take on other roles if needed. This is why they spend a lot of time improving all their volleyball skills.

Middle blockers also can serve. This means restarting the game behind the court. They can also be the captain of the team. A great block can motivate the team as you are stopping an attack immediately. It is even possible to score a point with a block if the other team is not able to retrieve the ball. This is great as you are counterattacking immediately.

The coach of the other team is often going to ask for a timeout if they hit a lot of blocks in a row. Being unable to attack properly will result in losing the match.

Why do Middle blocker and liberos switch

A middle blocker is the first line of defense on defense and a libero is the last line of defense on offense. While they are both similar, there are some differences in skills needed to play each position.

Players rotate in a clock way fashion during the match. Made with Canva.

Players rotate over the court during a match. This makes sure that players have to take up multiple spots on the court and keeps the game challenging. Players stand in the front and the last row on the court. Liberos often replace middle blockers once they rotate to the last line. Liberos are more agile while middle blockers are often slower as these players are generally taller.

A Middle Blocker vs A Libero

-A libero must be quick with their feet and strong in blocking shots because they’re constantly moving from their defensive position to offensively set up for their team. They also need to know when to retreat from the court to avoid injury or defend from different positions like the net or the back row.

-A middle blocker needs to have a good understanding of reading the ball and anticipating where their teammates will be able to set up for an easy score, which means they need good passing skills as well as foot speed. But instead of doing this, a middle blocker can sometimes get too caught up in defending themselves that they can’t see what’s happening behind them.

To conclude, we can state that the middle blocker is a volleyball player that mainly focuses on defense. They want to stop the ball at the net by blocking the attack. This is challenging as they need to get their timing and technique right to do this. In offense, they might have to give an assist if the setter is not able to do so. In some instances, they might have to attack as well. These are often taller players that are less agile and they often get replaced by the libero when they are in the last row during the rotation.