What Just Happened? – Another 1 v 1

Posted by

I have broken down quite a few plays and game situations here and here. A couple of weeks ago, I looked specifically at how 1 v 1 came to pass. As we learned there, a 1 v 1 is not always the result of a genius setter, but sometimes it is a bad blocking play. In this case, it is not so much bad blocking as a series of unconscious movements that leads to an unnecessary 1 v 1.

The blockers start in their standard positions.
However, the position 4 blocker continues to move following the setter. The middle blocker also continues to move, so that at setter’s contact they are a long way their starting positions.

The question we have to ask is why did position 4 move when there was no reason to move. His starting position is still the optimal position to block against the opposite, that is why it is the starting position. If he had stood his ground he could actually also better block against the opposing middle, so would be involved in two plays. But instead he unconsciously maintained his position relative to the setter, despite the fact that it makes his actual blocking position worse.

Check out this extended Setting Presentation. Learn the secrets of Ball and Vermiglio and many others.

The next question is why did the middle move. Simply, he moved because there was a space next to him and he unconsciously filled it even though it made his actual blocking position worse**. Indeed he was so far out of position by the end that he didn’t even bother moving to try to block. The first unconscious move by position 4, led to another unconscious move by the middle that led to a complete breakdown of the play.

These are typical actions you will see over and over again in different game situations. Players unconsciously move around the court although they have nothing to gain by doing so, wasting energy, and more importantly often ending up out of position and thus reducing their chances of success. As Uncle Earvin says, “Play better. Stand still”.

**In volleyball, as in life, nature fills vacuums. This also explains why players always move forwards to cover space that is actually covered by the block.

Check out my practice gym. See what drills I use and why


  1. Great pickup about the outside blocker moving unnecessarily – that’s something I’ve never noticed.

    However I’m not sure that the middle is moving just because the outside blocker is. I watched the video slowly, and both blockers start moving at exactly the same time. The middle blocker ended up directly in front of the middle hitter – isn’t this correct? Had he stayed in the starting position, he might’ve made the double block, but he wouldn’t have been able to block the middle effectively if the setter set him.



    1. The middle is directly in front of the hitter, but not in front of his approach. The key is the approach. The hitter has a clear seam.


    2. I tried to leave a screenshot on the previous comment. But if you pause you can see it.
      The problem here is that in effect, noone is blocking anyone.
      If the outside stays, there are potential two blocks in every position.


    3. I didn’t watch the movement in slow motion, but my defence is that if position 4 didn’t move, the middle couldn’t move. 😉


  2. Funny you picked one of the best middle blockers of the decade Marko Podrascanin for this 🙂 Serbia’s overall play in this match was so lackadaisical. They just looked lost the entire time 😦


    1. Technically, I think I put the responsibility on Ivovic 🙂
      Podrascanin a great middle. I think I picked him in my World VII recently.
      I agree they were pretty bad in those two matches.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s