The Types of Defense in Volleyball

Some teams opt for a hybrid of defensive strategies.
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You’re near the net with your knees slightly bent, ready for a chance to spike the ball. Attacking is a fine goal to have on the volleyball court. After all, spiking can translate into scoring. But the narrow focus can also get you -- and your team -- into trouble. If your opponents are skilled attackers, you’d better remember your defense drills, too.

Player Back

    Player-back defense is also called “perimeter defense” in reference to the players positioned at the sidelines and endlines of the play area. Players in the back are the diggers, responsible for intercepting and passing hard-driven balls moving in a downward trajectory. A front-row player stays back at the 3-meter line and sideline corner and also works as a digger to neutralize her opponent’s fast balls coming at an angle.

Player Up

    If your opponent’s attack strategy is to pretend that the players are going to spike the ball, but instead they simply tip it over the net, the player-up defense system might give you an advantage. Your team could have a front player 5 to 7 feet from the net, depending on where the opponent’s ball tends to fall. This player is also called the "off-blocker" because she stands by the block -- one to two players who position themselves directly in front of the opponent who has the ball -- in a supporting role. The off-blocker’s goal is to pass any ball that penetrates the block. Based on how the other team usually tips the ball, your team can devise a more effective version of this defense system.


    In a rotation-defense strategy, you and your team players have basic positions you default to unless you are under attack. When the other team is set to send the ball over the net, you rotate to the defending positions that you practiced prior to the game. Each player needs to know the area of the court for which she’s responsible. If your team is protecting itself against a ball by an outside hitter, for example, your middle-back players rotate to the sideline where the ball is headed.


    A block-defense strategy does two things: It stops the ball from entering your side of the court, and it sends the ball to the other team’s back row. As a blocker, you need to do more than jump and raise your arms. You also have to have the strength to push the ball far back with your palms. When she's not involved in the current play, the blocker must crouch low ready to jump as soon as the ball seems to be headed over the net.

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