Defending a middle attack

This is a defensive system to defend against an attacker coming through the middle of the court. It is mainly for rally or non-side out situations, but could also be used in side out.

Imaging you are in a rally. The ball has already gone back and forth a few times, and your opponents have made a dig. The set goes up to the middle of the net….

The default defense

The first priority is to take out the hitters hard attack. With this system we give that responsibility to our blocker. The attacker will almost always be approaching on an angle, so the blocker will take the side of the court directly in front of the attacker. So if the hitter hits hard and straight in front of his or her body, then the block should take that ball. And if the attacker turns the ball past the block, then the back court defender will be there.

The diagram below “Default defensive position for a middle attack in broken play” shows the direction of the attacker, and the area taken by the blocker, marked “B”. The defender, “D”, is waiting in the other half.

The red circle “Open” shows the area of the court that is left open. This is your weak spot. The attacker could play over the block  into this area or deep to the corner and very likely score the point.

Default defensive position for a middle attack in broken play

This should work quite well against most teams, at least for the first few times. If you are playing a smart opponent, they will see the weak spot and try to play a chip shot or a pokie over the block.

The “change up”

This is where the fun starts. Once you see your opponent play that shot you can try the “change up” play. Set up the same, but change at the last second. The blocker jumps back into the weaker side of the court, and the defender jumps in to take the hard hit.

If this change up play is done late enough, so that that attacker does not see it, it can result in a block or an easy dig.

Change up defensive position for a middle attack in broken play

Get creative with your defense

So now, hopefully you have made a couple of points using this system, and the attacker is aware that you are mixing things up. A good attacker will be looking harder at the back court defender now. As a defender you should use the fact that he know what you are doing, and try to stay one step ahead. Play the change up, then fake the change up and go back to the original default position. Next play, just sit with the default position.

As you mix things up you will probably find that in a rally situation like this, the blocker and defender need to act independently to some extent. You don’t get the chance to set up this sort of play in mid rally. A good way to manage this might be to agree on playing the default position until it gets beaten by a shot over the block. Once that happens, then agree to play the change up on the next opportunity. Once that gets beaten then you could try leaving the blocker in default position and let the back court player make the moves. Then change roles.

Just keep talking and learning. Against some opponents, your blocker will feel that he can make the play, so let the back court player stay still and set the trap. In some cases the back court player will have a good idea, so the blocker just tries to channel the ball, or set the trap to make a dig in back court.

The best results will be when both players are working together and communicating well.