Reading and Reacting

From a Coach:

The biggest problem for my team right now (and probably many teams) is the hole left behind the blockers. My front row player, not blocking, is based at 10 x 10. My back right and left are based at 2 x2 or 2 x 3 and my middle-middle is middle-middle. Is covering the tip, or the odd attempted hit that just slips over the blockers a matter of reading and anticipation only? We have been doing a lot of Ball-Setter-Ball-Hitter. I just wonder if there is more I can do.

Our Reply:

If the ball gets set to your right side, your off-blocker will go to 10×10, and your right-back defender will “shuffle back and dig” – remember that simply meant get about two steps back and about a step from the line, and then READ the hitter like crazy.

That having been said, you have to put your players where the balls get hit. If your opponents are tipping a huge percentage of the balls right over the block, you might consider moving your right-back player up to cover those tips more effectively. What you need to consider is how many balls are falling on tips as a percentage of total shots. If it is a small percentage, then just let them go. If it is pretty high, then move some kids around. But as always, we need our kids to become great at seeing the game: identifying which kinds of sets get tipped, then identifying which kind of approaches and body positions generate tips from hitters.

You can work on that in virtually every game you play, not just BSBH. In fact, you say you do the BSBH drill “a lot”. I would consider reducing the amount of time you spend in that drill (it is really good for working with blockers, which is a skill where we don’t want to spend too much time), and play more wave games. During those games, coach your kids on reading tips; ask them what they see in terms of the set and the hitter and get them to start recognizing things.

I hope this helps.

Chris