When your team is serving you start out on defense since the opponents will be attacking first. Front row players are in defensive positions at the net, preparing to block the opposing hitters. It’s helpful to start out facing the other team’s passers so you can be prepared for whatever might happen, which may also give you a head start on your transition.
You remain on defense until the other team attacks, at which point your team either loses the point or moves to offense. From row players will either block or pull off the net depending on where the ball gets set, while back row players will only be moving around the back court to get into position.
If you’re a hitter, there are few things you’ll be doing on defense: passing, blocking or not being involved in the play.
After the pass is complete most back row players should be moving toward the net to cover their hitter in case s/he gets blocked. At least one player needs to stay deep in the court, however, in case of a deep block or the ball being sent back over the net right away.
Front row players who don’t get set will also converge on the hitter who is attacking to cover in case of a block.
After your team successfully attacks you must get back to your base defensive position right away. That will either be at the net to block (for front row players) or in a defensive ready position in the back court (for back row players).
Getting caught napping is an all-too-common cause of the other team getting an easy kill. Don’t admire your teammate’s excellent hit – get back into position and be ready for the next attack.
The hardest part about transitioning is probably avoiding the setter; or, if you’re the setter, avoiding everyone else. The front row players are concentrating on getting back to their attack positions near the 10-foot line while you’re trying to get into the target position, which can make lanes of traffic very crowded.
Practice transitioning in a controlled situation, like a practice or before a game, so you can get familiar with the paths that everyone will be traveling. Move into defensive positions for left, right and middle attacks and then transition to offense, including any plays that you’ll be running.
You should also try and be aware of the court, your teammates and the ball at all times. This is a lot easier said than done, but court awareness is a key part of the teamwork that makes outstanding teams look like a seamless unit.
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