reference Practical Knowledge Transfer for the preparation of a tournament participation from Septemeber 18. 2023
Yesterday, while executing match like tournament scenarios, it crystallize that the dig strategy needs to be reminded and the available theoretical steps be kept in mind.
As US Volleyball coach kiraly says:
"I know that if you go after every ball on defense, you're going to get some of those impossible balls up from time to time....and win some important games because of it." -- Karch Kiraly
During yesterday's match simulations, which closely resembled tournament scenarios, it became evident that there is a need to revisit and emphasize the dig strategy.
Within the dig strategy, players need to adopt a defensive mindset. These are the fundamental steps that should be followed for a successful dig strategy:
A) Set up around the block
B) Read the hitter
C) Dig to the target
-Know the hitter's tendencies:
Understand where the hitter prefers to swing hard and their favorite shots.
- Watch the setter:
Determine if the setter is in the front row and if they tend to attack on the second ball. As the pass travels to the setter, watch for any signs that the setter is going to attack. Even if the setter is in the back row, they can still dump the ball. The most easily readable setter attacks occur when the setter turns their body to face the net and sets or hits the ball over. Another indicator is when the setter plays the ball with only one raised arm, often signaling an open-hand tip or throw.
-Watch the hitter:
Observe the alignment of the hitter's shoulders and front chest. The direction the hitter is facing is likely the direction they will hit.
- Watch the hitter's arm swing:
Look for signs such as the elbow dropping, which often indicates they will hit an off-speed shot.
- Watch the hitter's approach:
If they don't take a quick, aggressive approach as they normally would, they probably won't hit a hard-driven ball.
-Expect the ball to be hit your way:
As the hitter approaches, anticipate that they will hit the ball hard in your direction. Always focus on expecting a hard hit first, then play the shot second.
- Pay attention to a slower or unusual approach:
Often, a hitter may decide before their approach that they won't swing hard. Watching for an unusual approach (one that isn't fast and aggressive) can help in reading the hitter.
- Recognize when the elbow drops before the arm swing:
A slow arm swing or a dropped elbow is a good indicator that the hitter will tip or roll the ball.
- Be prepared for adjustments in the approach:
Sometimes, the set may be farther off or tighter than expected. Inexperienced hitters may adjust their approach to simply keep the ball in play and avoid hitting errors.
In addition, playing faster defense is crucial. Great defensive players react spontaneously to new situations and hustle to beat the ball to its destination. They use various techniques like sprinting, quick steps, falling, diving, rolling, sprawling, and jumping to reach the ball. The key is to get the ball up and keep it in play, giving your team a chance to win the rally. Always start with your body weight on your toes, expecting the ball to come your way, and try to dig the ball to a target.
The key to successful volleyball digging and making great defensive plays is to prioritize getting the ball up. After digging the ball, it's crucial to quickly get back on your feet and position yourself for an attack.
In situations where the ball is challenging to play, don't overly concern yourself with making a perfect pass. Instead, focus on getting the ball up to the middle of the court, even if it means sacrificing accuracy. This enables your partner to set it up for the next play.
Positioning is crucial for effective defense in volleyball. Typically, you should start your defensive position about 10 to 15 feet away from the net. However, this positioning may vary depending on your opponent's playing style. If your opponent is skilled at hitting sharp angles into the court, you may need to adjust your starting position accordingly.
Regardless of your starting position, it's essential to be prepared to move quickly in any direction or cover various distances to reach the ball.
Understanding your range is a key aspect of volleyball digging and playing exceptional defense. Outstanding defenders have a deep understanding of how much of the court they can concede. Your ability to anticipate and read the unfolding play directly influences your defensive positioning.
For instance, if you excel at reading and anticipating the game, you can leave more court space open for your opponent. This tactic creates the illusion of a larger target area for the hitter. As a defender, you can "bait" the hitter into believing there's an open spot. Thanks to your understanding of your range, you can easily retrieve the shot, leading to a remarkable defensive play.