What is the best volleyball defense and what are defensive skills in volleyball? This answer will surprise you.

There are two main volleyball defenses. You have blocking and digging. They are used for different situations and both are essential if you want to defend well. Blocking is used to stop the ball from going over the net. Some players specialize in this as you need to jump quite high if you want to be able to do this. Other players are not able to do this as you need to be able to hold your hands above the net. They might focus on getting great at digging instead. Digging is diving to keep the ball in the air when the other team attacks.

In some instances, you can just stand still to catch the ball. If the ball is going further down the field, you might have to run and dive to keep the ball in the air. You have to pass the ball to a team member so you need to slow the ball down and use a lot of precision to send it to your team members. Let’s discuss each of these in detail.

Blocking: stop the attack of the other team before it starts

Blocking is done by jumping just behind the net and stretching your arms and net. The goal is to touch the ball and send it back to the other side of the field. Your hands can’t touch the net so you have to make sure that you hold them over the net when you jump but lower them again once you go back down. In this way the ball doesn’t go between you and the net as often happens when newer players try to block. Getting the timing right is a challenge as you need some time to jump in the air as well.

This is done by setting multiple steps and using that momentum to launch yourself in the air. You have to avoid jumping too early or too late as the other team can often score an easy point if you miss the block. After landing back on the court, you have to be ready to play again immediately.

It is possible that someone will pass to you or that you have to attack yourself. There is no time to think about how you could have delivered a better block as the game keeps going on.

Let’s see how professional volleyball players explain blocking. This is not an easy feat and it is mainly done by players that have more experience:

Digging: keep the ball in the air down the field

This type of defense can be quite simple if the ball lands close by where you are standing. You just have to move your arms and pass. Since you are already standing stable, it will be easier to control the ball. Digging can be a challenge if you have to run to get the ball. This means that you are less stable and have to adjust so that you can control the ball.

This takes a lot of practice as you have to control the ball while you are off-balance. You also have to look where your team members are standing so that you can pass them the ball. Therefore digging while you are moving is a lot harder.

Digging requires a specific hand position. You lay the back of one hand on the palm of the other. Then you fold your hands together so that your thumbs touch each other. This holds your hands and forearms close to each other. You are going to use your forearms to control the ball. This makes it easier to control the ball. You can change the direction by turning your arms slightly. 

Let’s take a look at how a professional player is explaining this:

Digging can look quite spectacular as players fly through the air. Newer players can be more careful. Some even wear arm pads to make sure that they don’t land too hard. Sticking the landing also requires some technique and trial and error. On harder surfaces such as concrete, it might be impossible to dive for certain balls as you would land too hard. 

If the ball is coming in slowly, it can also be possible to use an overhand pass to keep the ball in the air. In this way, you might have more control over the ball and can restart the attack faster. This can only be done if the ball doesn’t have too much speed and is still high enough in the air. This will not happen that often, especially not when the other team is great at attacking. 

To conclude, we can say that there is no defensive volleyball move that is the best. You have to be able to hold the ball at the net but also further down the field. Even if you are great at blocking, you are not going to succeed at this every time.

Therefore it is important that you can also catch the ball in your own court. Both blocking and digging are essential volleyball skills. You can specialize in one of them but should try to be good at both of them. Timing, ball handling, and hand-eye coordination are essential if you want to get great at both of these skills. Blocking is often only done by more advanced players while digging is also done by beginners. Not everyone can jump high enough to block so some players decide to focus on digging instead. You will have to practice both if you want to get great at volleyball.