Defensive Transitions

Being in the right position is half the battle on defense. You can spend all the time practicing passing with your platform but if you cannot read the opponent and place yourself where the ball is going, you are most likely going to lose. It’s about being in the right place at the right moment and executing.

When learning defensive transitioning it’s important to identify what type of ball your opponent will send over. There are three important types of balls you will receive in transition: free ball, down ball, or offensive attack at the net.

Key Words
Seam – A hole in the block between the outer blocker and MB.
Off Blocker – The player front row that is not blocking at the net.

Base Defense

Base defense is where you will go every time after your team has sent the ball over the net whether it be a free ball, down ball, or attack. Based on whether you are front row or back row OHs will go to the left side of the court, S & OPP will go to the right side and MB, DS and L will go to the middle. Based on your coach’s decision some positions can move.

How to Read the Diagrams
Front Row Players are white
Back Row Players are grey
Shaded region indicates blocks shadow on the court.
Arrow illustrate the position players move to.

Free Ball Defense

Free ball defense is executed when the opposing team sends a ball over that is not attacked above the net. OH2 and MB2 transition and split the back court while the S1 breaks to the net immediately. Front row players (OH1, MB1, S2) pull off the net prepared to take a short ball but also ready to take their approach and attack.

Down ball defense

Down ball defense is used when the opposing team is attacking the ball off the net. Back row players (OH2, MB2, S1) pull back into three across prepared to dig an attacked ball while front row players (OH1, MB1, S2) pull off the net ready for a short ball but also ready to attack.

defense against the outside

In defense against the outside the S2 & MB1 form a block against the opposing hitter. S1 drops back and holds the line with their right foot on it. OH2 holds angle and and MB2 drops either into the seam or the deep angle. Off blocker, OH1, pulls off the net prepared to take the sharp angle and any balls tipped inside 10ft. (The shaded region illustrates area the block should take away)

defense against the Middle

In defense against the middle MB1 blocks against the opposing hitter. If OH1 and S2 can help they should if not they stay low ready for the tips and deflections. S1 and OH2 hold their position prepared to dig a drive ball. MB2 stays deep ready for the deep tips and deflections. (The shaded region illustrates area the block should take away)

defense against the RightSide

In defense against the rightside the OH1 & MB1 form a block against the opposing hitter. OH2 drops back and holds the line with their left foot on it. S1 holds angle and and MB2 drops either into the seam or the deep angle. Off blocker, S2, pulls off the net prepared to take the sharp angle and any balls tipped inside 10ft. (The shaded region illustrates area the block should take away)

Now that you understand the basic defenses, practice them until the movements becomes second nature. Focus on being able to read the opponent, position yourself properly and don’t let the ball hit the ground!