Today I was working on my block pulling footwork and I was imagining game like scenarios to help my mind simulate the situations. Doing this sparked an idea to write about, positioning the serve to aid your teams blocking scheme.
Obviously the game is never black and white, but there is a concept that I use, especially when I’m the server and have to run up to the net to block. The concept is pretty simple but sometimes overlooked.
Envision this: I am the server and have to run up to block. The block call is “line” on both opponents.
My thought: in order to help my team defense, serve on the sideline side of either player (obviously whoever my team has decided to go after). The reason is simple. Generally if you serve towards the sideline, the player’s pass is going to be closer to the sideline. As I run up to block, I have put myself in a position to block a hard line hit, and allowed my defender to have the angle and run down the high line shot.
Think, if I were to serve towards the middle and try to block line…the pass would go more towards the middle. My block becomes a little tougher to make efficient, and the defender has lots of shots to cover. Not to mention if I decide to pull, I have made it hard on myself to cover the line side because I have to pull at a diagonal.
Using this idea of ball movement, let’s look at what to do if the block call is “angle.”
In order to set up the block to be most efficient and allow the defender to not feel overwhelmed, I would serve the opponent on the inside of their body. As talked about above, generally the pass would be more towards the center of the court. This would leave the defender one half of the court, and a shot above the block. A team defense with a line block is always tougher so using this is crucial.
Don’t forget about the audible call, “switch!” For instance, if the blocking call is “angle” and I serve a ball towards sideline that gets passed close to the antenna but a good set is still put up, I would yell, “switch!” so my defender knows they now have the angle and I’m blocking line. If I were to stick to the original “angle” call, my defender would have a tiny bit of line to cover, I most likely wouldn’t be able to block all of the angle hit, and a lollipop shot over my angle is an easy point for the other team.
To summarize the above strategy: if you’re blocking line, serve towards the outside leg. If you’re blocking angle, serve towards inside leg.
As I said before, the game is never black and white but this is a strategy to consider. Factors such as wind, opponents running play sets frequently, and opponent weaknesses and strengths should always be considered.
Until next time,