Originally published in Inside HP, October 2011 (edited for content and clarity)
Sit Still on DefenseMany players feel that they must be athletic to be a good digger, and they often bounce all over the court while the ball is being hit. Also, back-row players often think that they must make the perfect read or be in the perfect position to make a defensive play and end up moving while the ball is being contacted. I am a big believer of staying still on defense. Here are a few things to consider:
- All movement is created by applying force to the floor. When you walk, run, jump or dive, you push off the floor in a manner to create the force to move in a direction. In order to do this, you must have contact with the floor. By hopping around there is a moment of time where you don’t have contact with the floor. That moment is the biggest factor whether you react to the hit properly or not.
- When you move, your head bobs up and down. This means you do not see with as much precision as keeping your head still. Wouldn’t it be better to see the whole situation in an instant and then react quickly to that information?
- When you pre-hop forward, your body automatically shifts its weight back on your heals to counter the momentum of the body moving forward. With the weight on your heals, you are not in an optimal position to react to a ball dropping in front of you.
- If you can stay still and balanced while the opponent is attacking, you can read and react much faster and more explosively. You will tend to be more ready for anything that happens on the other side of the net. With training, you will also develop more range.
Point to Point ReadinessWe use the term “Point to Point Readiness.” This means that on every contact by the opponent you are stopped and ready to react. If it were a script, it would go something like this:
We serve: I get into position on base defense.
FIRST CONTACT (They pass): I get still and read
The pass is in the air: I read
SECOND CONTACT (The setter sets/attacks): I’m still and read
Set is in the air: I read and move to digging position
THIRD CONTACT (The hitter jumps to hit): I get still and read
Hit is in the air: I see and react
If you adopt the concepts of staying still/reading and point to point readiness, your focus and reaction speeds will increase dramatically. Defense will actually feel easier.