Swing Blocking – Everything You Need to Know
Swing blocking is another option for front row players to use against an opposing teams attack. This enhanced blocking method will work for certain players; however, it is not for everyone. That is why most of the time it is really up to the coaches preference whether he or she wants to have their front row swing blocking. For players, it is a great skill to know and have if your coach, or maybe a future coach, decides to use swing blocking in their defense. When swing blocking is done right, it can be extremely beneficial for your team and defense. However, if it is done poorly, it can truly throw off the entire defense.
What is Swing Blocking?
Swing blocking is essentially using your open, cross, hop footwork along the net while swinging your arms in order to penetrate further over the net to block your opponent. It is an option that will help blockers gain more height, speed, and accuracy if done consistently the right way. In order for the swing block to be effective while you are double blocking, your moves must be synchronized. However, irregardless of whether you are blocking by yourself or with another player, you must press straight over, and never drift.
Press is another term for reaching your arms high and over the net to ensure you get a solid block that goes straight down. Blockers should literally press the ball down with their hands. When blockers press it decreases the chances of having the ball fall in between you and the net which is a common mistake for most blockers.
What are the Benefits of Swing Block?
One of the main reasons swing blocking was originally taught in the first place was to give blockers a greater vertical on their block in order to cover more height. This helps those players who are on the shorter side in height get up higher. Obviously if you are using the open, cross, hop footwork approach with blocking that is typically used for hitting, then your block jump will be higher than if you just power jump from standing. Swing blocking allows front row players to jump higher than they usually would if they just used the traditional stand-and-jump block.
Another benefit of swing blocking is that it can be more aggressive than a traditional stand block when it is done correctly. Part of the entire strategy behind a swing block is that it helps the block press because of the extra height you get with the jump. So the footwork with this approach style block helps you get the extra arm length you need in order to press accurately.
What Kind of Player Should Swing Block?
There is not a specific body type for this movement. Any player can catch on to swing blocking. However, those players who have fantastic body control and quick feet will thrive over those who do not. That is why coaches are very strategic and picky about whom they want swing blocking. If a blocker is clumsy or slow, this is not the right blocking approach for them. Only those who have mastered the timing, body control, and footwork can swing block consistently.
What are the Disadvantages of Swing Blocking?
Timing is everything in volleyball. In swing blocking, if the timing is not there, it is a completely useless block. The timing in swing blocking is even trickier than a traditional stand-and-jump block because you have to start approaching well before the hitter makes contact. In fact, most coaches suggest leaving after the ball has left the setters hands. But if you mess up the timing, not only do you miss the blocking opportunity, but your back row defense can get completely chaotic as well.
Defense will always set up around the block. If you are out of position and your timing is off, defense will also be out of position. Another disadvantage to swing blocking is that blockers will often drift midair. The result of this is the same as the timing issue; you as well as the rest of your defense will be out of place. Swing blocking requires one to be completely in the air not drifting. It is hard to avoid drifting because it is natural for your body to keep going with the swing block motion. But the key is to stop yourself so that you can actually penetrate over the net. Many blockers fail to do this, and make a habit of drifting.
Defense will always have a harder time setting up around a swing block. Even if your timing is absolutely perfect, you will be positioned differently every time. This makes it really hard for the back row defense to get into a consistent groove to dig around you.
Swing Blocking Tips to Remember
1. Control your body. Be aware of your surroundings. Touching the top of the net will cost your team a point. Also, do not drift. Stay upright and strong pressing in the appropriate location of the attacker.
2. Press—your timing might be perfect, but if your arms are not in the proper position then you have not accomplished what you set out to do. Pressing will allow you to get a solid touch on the ball so your defenders can play it up.
3. Land on two feet. With everything in volleyball, your landing is just as important. Twisted and sprained ankles are often the result of not landing on two feet.
4. Practice the entire approach—you do not need a net to do this. Even doing the footwork at home against a wall is helpful if you do not have access to a net all of the time. Although there are some disadvantages to swing blocking, there are many great benefits it can offer as well.
Remember the keys to swing blocking are to approach strong, penetrate over the net, and do not drift! It is up to your coach to use this method; however, it is helpful to practice swing blocking regardless so that you can be prepared to use it in the future.
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