How To Play Better Defense
Defense is the art of keeping the ball off the sand.
The single biggest piece of advice I can give regarding defense is to NEVER decide that you cant reach a ball before you go for it.
You will be absolutely amazed by the number of times that you will reach a ball that you would have given up on if you had Thought About It First
When you play defense you need to keep in mind that you cannot cover every square inch of the court.
Sometimes, you must give up certain areas of the court in exchange for the chance to either dig a hard driven ball or chase down a roll shot.
Many players assume that because the pros block on every play, that they should do the same thing.
They forget that the pros can hammer every ball that is set to them while their JSVBA opponents probably cant!
In our mens pro/open division the best teams are prepared to block on every play but actually only block about 50-70 percent of the time.
The rest of the time they drop off the net and try to dig the ball.
So my first suggestion is that you seriously consider blocking less!
Play more defense where the two of you are both back trying to dig a ball! Trust me, your defense and the number of balls that you touch will probably improve very quickly.
Now that you are both back in your normal defensive position, I want you to imagine that you have a rope tied from your waist to your partners. This rope is approximately 15 feet long and that is the farthest that you should ever be away from your partner.
By staying close together, if either one of you should make a dig the other player will be close enough to be able to get to the ball.
You want to move around the court in unison, when one player goes to the left both players go to the left and vice versa.
This requires that you both read the set and the hitter and then come to the same conclusion as to where the ball is going to go.
If you are 15 feet apart and one of you is near a sideline, you will be covering about 2/3 of the court so reading the hitter correctly is imperative but giving up that part of the court that you have decided will not be hit to, will make your defense significantly more effective. (Many of the Open Level Teams do this without even realizing it!)
When you make a dig on a hard driven ball dont try to put the ball way up in the air, if the ball is hit hard at you it will go high enough for your partner to get it if it goes only 8-10 feet in the air.
And you dont need to try to pass the ball to your partner, straight up and down right in front of you is where you want the ball to go, let your partner come get the ball, then there is no confusion regarding where you will pass the ball and your partner knows what to do every single time you make a dig!
Remember, this is why I suggest that you never get more than 15 feet apart, that is half the width of the court and most players can get to any ball that is popped up even just a little bit from that far away.
When you make a dig be sure to talk to your partner, something along the lines of Its up! or Come on! will make a tremendous difference in both motivating your partner and letting him know that the ball is up in the air because hes not looking at you as you make the dig.
Now, if you are playing someone who can consistently, (and by consistently I mean ten out of ten times) put the ball on the sand with a hard hit and you cant touch it, it is time to consider blocking or serving his partner.
But that is a different article!