Sometimes a soft block is your best bet.
Most teams rely on blockers to take away part of the court from their opponent’s attackers, and blocking should certainly be part of any team’s defense. But what happens if a lack of height or injury prevents you from contributing as much as you want to your team’s block? That’s where the soft block can come in handy.
This blocking technique is designed for players who are too short (or perhaps too injured) to jump and block effectively at the net. Instead you back off the net and aim to deflect the hard driven attack upwards in a trajectory that’s easier for your team to pass.
Like most blocking skills this one involves precise timing if you’re going to jump and soft block. If you’re resorting to this method due to an injury that prevents you from jumping, obviously positioning is your primary concern.
If you’re jumping and soft blocking, you should be jumping later than if you were blocking right up at the net. You want to intercept the volleyball’s path as it comes over the net, so you’ll jump a couple of seconds after the hitter does. This is going to feel weird at first, especially if you’ve trained as a “real” blocker in the past, so work on it in practice before trying it out in a game.
As I said, soft blocking takes place well off the net, and you’ll be flexing your wrists back slightly to direct the ball upwards toward the ceiling rather than trying to push it back down onto your opponent’s court like with a traditional penetration block. Whether or not you’re jumping, your height and your vertical will all play a big part in exactly how far off the next you need to be. Experiment until you find a spot that works for you; start 2-3 feet off the net and move backwards from there.
Practice soft blocking during hitting lines so you can learn to read the hitters and adjust your timing accordingly. Soft blocking will allow you to cover for tips and roll shots more effectively than if you were blocking right up at the net, so take full advantage of this benefit and be ready for all types of attacks.
Remember that just because you’re not the tallest player in the gym doesn’t mean you can’t do your part and help block. Don’t be shy about using the soft block; it can be an effective weapon in your defensive arsenal.
For more blocking ideas, check out 2 Quick Tips for Better Blocking Today.
For more volleyball skills tips, sign up for my weekly e-mail newsletter!