See the block? Is it possible?

Coach Houser:
My daughter started off last night with 5 or 6 kills.  The opponents started to slide their MB over to block with their RS and blocked her a couple of times.  My daughters needs help on what to do when there is a wall in front of her. She currently tries to hit it harder but that does not always work.

When there’s a wall in front of her.
a) Does she know when that wall is there?   For an 8th graders, this usually similar to asking a 16 year old, “Do you know when there’s a bee in your car while you’re driving?  And if there is, what do you do?”
b)  If Bre doesn’t see the “bee,” but just believes that it’s there, then she will unaware of it’s exact location, how to avoid it, etc.  All this while is supposed to be concentrating on driving!  See the analogy?
c)  Not being able to simultaneously spike & see the block is normal for a person her age.  My stepdaughter didn’t learn how to concentrate on the ball & avoid the block until she started playing school ball in the fall of her 11th grade year.  And this was after she had been on my club team for four years (7th – 10th grade) and we had practiced it several times each season.
c) Your daughter will probably see the block eventually.  But it may be 2 or 3 years from now.  Until then, she’ll have guess whether it’s there or not.

At 5’6″ seeing the block and tooling/avoiding it was how my stepdaughter earned her front row playing time at a D1 school!  While some her teammates who couldn’t see the block would have better nights vs. weaker teams (b/c they could blast the ball over & through the opponents’ blockers), they would be shut down vs. the better teams.

From what I’ve said, you can believe that not ever learning to see the block is common.  As you, a dad, sit in the bleachers day after day, month after month, and you see that one OH on your daughter’s team is blocked 20% of the time, while the other one if blocked 3% of the time, night after night, month after month, then there can be no doubt that the 3% is seeing the block, the 20% isn’t.  It’s not luck.  And it’s not guessing right.

Girls who play on my teams are exposed to “see the block” drills several times a season.  The girls may not be able to do it at their present age, but I hope that they realize that it can will be done eventually.

Please don’t mention this much to your daughters.  It will be like mentioning to a 7 year old outfielder, “You don’t know where the ball is landing yet? Why not?”   What will the 7 year old say?  She can’t be expected to do what she’s not capable of doing yet.  I remember asking my stepdaughter about twice a year, “Can you see the block when you’re hitting,” just b/c I wanted to know.  She would always answer “some”.  But, when she was blocked like 5 or 6 times her ENTIRE high school 11th grade season, I said, “You can see the block now, can’t you?” and she said, “Yep!”   Then as a college player, she would put on “tooling the block” exhibition that were just unreal.  Some nights, she’d get 6 to 8 tools, while the rest of her team combined might get 5.


About coachhouser

I started coaching volleyball in 1985, and it's taken me all over the USA. I've in my 21st year coaching club ball, and have coached 18 varsity teams and 10 JV teams. My staff and I have directed 27 camps the past 3 summers; and, it appears that 2012 will be most active summer yet! We also give lessons nearly every Saturday and Sunday night. Please visit us at
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