To use blocking signals or not?

January 4, 2021

4 min read

To use blocking/signals or not?

Steven Ijams
Owner -South Bay Volleyball - Beach Volleyball Academy

We get this question often. We teach a transition-blocker system the moment we're confident that the players can control their ball fairly well. This style defense uses hand signals by the person closest to the net to communicate defensive positioning/responsibility to their partner.

This post isn't to explain all the varying signals and ways to defend/manage the court, high/low percentages, hitter tendencies or even blocking. This is to cast light on learning the system and why we teach it.

You don't have to be able to block to run a blocking-style defense. It definitely helps but having a blocker up does several key things


There are three reasons why we teach a blocker-transition defense.

First - Guard against the accidental overset.

  • It places the "blocker" in the spot of the most common accidental overset.
  • How many times have you played "side by side" and the set accidently goes over the net and lands for point. This places a player in this location until after the set where the player can easily block or pull off the net and play defense.
  • From this position, if the ball comes over as an accidental overset, the blocker can easily attack on one or setup an offense to counter attack using two contacts.

Second - Shot shaping.

  • Having a player at the net either blocking or pulling shapes the hitter's choices and makes managing the court as a defender slightly easier having and understanding of where the hitters options are.

Third - No more isolating the weaker/stronger player.

  • In this type of defense, nobody has a side. So it's much more difficult to isolate the weaker/stronger player when their lateral positions change.

Fourth - It's more fun!

  • There is a "fun" element to utilizing a defense that has some tactical value. It makes it feel like you are actively playing the game instead of just waiting and reacting.

Final thoughts: As long as the opponent has enough ball control to know where their ball is going, this is the defense we teach.