What to Do When You Block

First of all, we seriously suggest that most teams think about blocking less than you do now.

One of the most important things you can do as a blocker happens before the ball is even served.

Communicate! Make sure you and your partner both know exactly what you are going to do.

After you show your hand signals to your partner you should hear some kind of acknowledgement (OK or Yes, works just fine) from your partner before they serve and if they don’t like what you are going to do they can ask you to change your calls until you both agree.

The three pictures of hand signals to the right of this column are the most common way to communicate your intention as a blocker to your partner when they are serving.

Some players will use a single hand signal for both players, while others use two hands with a different signal for each opposing player.

Each style has it’s advantages with the two hand style allowing you to change the call from player to player, but that requires more remembering from your partner and at the end of a long, tiring day or after a couple of tough rallies our brains aren’t always capable of a lot of mental activity.

No Block

Blocking Line

Blocking Cross-Court

Some very simple rules to remember when blocking are:
  1. Block the hitter’s best hit
  2. Wait, Wait, Wait!
  3. Don’t try to make a Stuff Block everytime

As a blocker you want to block the ball whenever you can.

However, that should be made very difficult by the other team who will try to set the ball out of your reach all the time.

In many cases, it is more important to channel the hitter’s shot to where your partner is rather than to block it.

The best blockers on the beach don’t necessarily block lots of balls but they do change the hitter’s shot into one that their partner has a chance of digging.

Don’t misunderstand me, any time you can block the ball you want to, but if you decide to reach for a ball rather than block the area you called, you had better get it or you leave your partner basically defenseless.

Most of the time you will want to take away the hitter’s best hit and force them to hit shots that are more difficult or that they are more likely to hit out.

Half the battle is won if, as a blocker, you are able to get the hitter to hit where you want them to.

To achieve that goal, you don’t want to be a “sneaky” blocker.

Many times you should make it extremely obvious to the hitter just what you are going to block so they have plenty of time to decide that they will hit the ball away from your block and hopefully, to where your partner is standing.

What do I mean by Wait, Wait, Wait!?

The best blockers jump much later than you would expect.

In fact, if you ask them why, you will probably get an answer of something like, “I had a coach who would grab my shorts and hold me down in blocking practice until I learned to wait longer than I initially thought was right.”


The simple answer is, if you are at the peak of your jump at the same time the hitter hits, you will be on your way down when the ball gets to you.

The further the hitter is off the net, the later you want to jump.

You want your hands moving towards the ball when it gets to you (which is later than when the hitter hits it!) so you can make adjustments to block it.

Once you start coming down, your hands are coming back, you aren’t reaching over the net making your block much smaller and easier to hit around.

So, Wait, Wait, Wait!

Another type of hand signal that Doug Emich and I have found to be very effective is to have the blocker simply point to the side you want the digger to play.

It has the advantage of simplicity, and if there is one thing that we agree on it is, the simpler, the better.

Remember, to be a good blocker on the beach, you don’t have to block every ball,

just be patient and make the hitter hit where you want them to and you will win more games.

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