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© 2011 Technical & Development Department
Beach Volleyball Drill-book
Defense on the beach is significantly different to that of indoors. The main reason of course is
that there are only 2 individuals covering the court as opposed to 6 indoor. Generally what is
found in adult and older youth teams is that one athlete will specialize in blocking and the other
in defense. The way in which the blocker and defender work together to cover the court is
somewhat complicated and a detailed explanation will not be given in this document.
However … the basic conventions for signaling blocking intentions involve holding the hands
behind the back with the left hand representing what the blocker is going to block on the left side
attacker and the right hand represents what the blocker is going to take away for the attacker on
the right. It is vital that the blocker and defender communicate with each other regarding which
area is going to be ‘taken out’ at the net.
Normally the blocker will either choose to take out the line (most frequently indicated by the
display of 1 finger) or angle (indicated by the display of 2 fingers). It is then the responsibility of
the defender to position oneself in the undefended area to dig the hard driven spike or chase
down the soft shot. When serving as a defender it is important to see your partners blocking
call, as this determines what area of the court are you responsible for. One thing to think about
is which shots are more likely than others given the blocking formation. What transpired in the
past that gives you information about what is likely to happen next.
At a beginner level it is not necessary to do a lot of block training with a defender behind
because athletes will simply not be at a level of skill (or height) for it to be effective. However,
introducing the basic hand positioning and technique along with the theory of blocking and
defense may be useful in the development of beginners’ understanding of the game. The
technique for retreating should be taught because even though a lot of young athletes who are
not yet tall enough to be effective will often start up slightly further in front of their normal
defensive positions just in case the ball is bump set or hand set over the net on the second
Athletes at an intermediate level will begin specializing in either blocking or defense. From this
point on their training will shift from a broad focus to one that involves a higher percentage of
time working on their area of expertise.
Athletes at an advanced level will develop synchronicity between the blocker and defender
including advanced tactics such as double faking on defense and transitioning after making the
dig. Faking involves trying to ‘show’ a false defensive arrangement to the hitter and this can be
done just by the block or defender or together.