Manny Johnson: Blog 7 at 2008 HP Youth Holiday Camp

Jan. 21, 2009, 5:11 p.m. (ET)

Day 3 session 3 12/28/08

After pre-practice we had setters on one court and serve pass on the other. On the setting court we had the libero work on setting when the setter digs (the setter says a name when she digs), while the other court did some butterfly games.

We then went over the basic defensive moves (dig, overhand series) and introduced sprawls, pancakes, and flippers.  We did some coach on 3 then introduced our defensive system.  Our base positions for the wing diggers is 2x2 (you can start right back maybe 3x2 b/c she has to get back to dig the line shot and she is in a better place to dig the cross court shot from a middle) that is 2 feet behind the 10 foot line and 2 feet from the sideline.  They should not move until they see where the ball is hit or if the hitter on their side gets set then they drop and dig.  Middle back is positioned at the middle-middle spot, 10 feet from the end line and 10 feet from the 10 foot line in the middle of the court.  This digger just turns and faces the hitter and makes plays.  Our defense is based on reading the hitter.

We spent a good amount of time explaining how to read a hitter.  It is all based on what you see.  When the ball is set diggers need to look first at the set itself; is it tight, if it is that means expect a tip.  Is it outside the antenna? If so expect a cross court shot or a hard angle shot.  Same if it is way inside the antenna expect a hard angle shot or cross court attack.  If the ball is deep off the net expect a high, deep cross court shot.  If the ball is fast to the antenna expect a line shot.  After the digger has gotten the needed information from the set itself she should then find the hitter; if the hitter doesn't jump our blockers stay down leaving our digger an easy down ball to scoop up.  For most hitters their shoulders lead the ball, in other words they hit where their shoulders are facing.  The approach ties in here too as most hitters will hit in the direction of their approach.  This means that defenders must be cognizant of where a hitters approach originates.

Lastly, defenders must know their hitters; most hitters tend to repeat the shots they have success with.  On a side note, it is important that we as coaches and the diggers do not overemphasize the importance of the block, the block does not take away and area of the court, it does not funnel balls to diggers it does two things, it terminates a play (very rarely in our favor) or it slows the ball down enough for someone to dig it.  That's it.
That was it for today as the players were tired and sore so we limited their jumping today and made sure they got extra stretching in.