One of the common traits in all the best side out players, especially the smaller ones, is their ability to see the block, and or the defender.
In the ideal situation, a player should know where the defender is, and see where the block is as they are hitting the ball.
There are a few different schools of thought about where a player should be looking as they approach the ball, but I don’t think anyone would disagree with me when I say that a player should have their eyes focussed on the ball at the moment of contact. In that moment, it is often hard to see the defender. They might be sitting behind the block, or somewhere outside the range of your peripheral vision.
However, if you have made a reasonable pass, and the set is OK, then you should be able to see where the block is using your peripheral vision.
This is a simple drill to help you focus your peripheral vision as you are swinging at the ball.
Side out vision
Two player on one side of the net, one setting, and the other attacking.
One player stands in the blocking position with one hand raised to the top of the net.
As the attacker is about to spike, the player at the net simply shows one finger, or two fingers.
If the attacker sees one finger, he/she must hit line. If it’s two, then hit cross.
Why not have a blocker jumping line or cross?
The idea behind this drill is not to train your side out, it is to teach you to focus your peripheral vision. Take the focus away from hitting winners, and just work on making the correct decision. Line or cross based on the finger call.
The next step is to move the net player to back court, and work on line or angle shots depending on whether the back court player raises their left or right hand.