The Middle Blocker in Volleyball Positions

What You Are Expected to Do as a Middle

women playing volleyball
 Westend61/Getty Images

On defense, the Middle Blocker position is the player at the net in the middle of the court between the two outside blockers. The middle blocker strives to be involved in blocking the opponent's hitters wherever they may be on the court. On offense, the middle blocker will usually hit quick sets or serve as a decoy to confuse the opponent's blockers if the pass is good enough.

What Does the Middle Blocker Do During a Play?

  1. Before your team serves the ball, line up directly in front of the other team's setter, just left of the middle of the court
  2. Find the hitters on your opponent's side and point them out to your teammates.
  3. Watch the hitters after the ball is served to see where they are headed.
  4. Read the setter and determine where she is going to send the ball
  5. Move to where you need to be to block the hitter.
  6. Close the block and penetrate the net with your arms.
  7. If the ball gets by you, get back quickly in transition and approach for a quick set.

What Attributes Are Important in a Middle Blocker?

  • Height
  • Quickness
  • Strength
  • Good Blocking Skill
  • Ability to read the setter

Starting Position

If you're playing middle, your starting position is directly in front of the setter - usually just to the left side of the middle of the court. Before your team serves the ball, you should locate your opponent's front row hitters and point them out to your teammates before play begins.

Play Development

When the ball is served it is your job to watch where the hitters go so you know what plays they are capable of running. Now it is time to read the setter.

If the pass is good, the setter can set the ball to any of her hitters or she can dump the ball over the net. You need to be ready for any of those possibilities.Stay on the setter to protect against the dump but be ready to move quickly to either side or jump with the quick set if she goes there. If you determine she is going to dump the ball, you need to try to block her attempt.

If the pass is off the net, the setter has fewer options and will likely have to set high outside or back row. When you see the pass is bad, you can start to cheat over to the most likely place the setter will set the ball. You should have plenty of time to close the block.

Closing the Block

Once you see where the ball is set, your job is to get right next to your outside blocker to form a solid two-person block. This means there is no space, gap or seam between your arms over the net and your outside blocker's arms. The two of you should form a wall to make it tougher on the hitter to get the ball by you.

Before the Serve

When the opponent is serving to your team and you are in serve receive, make sure you find out from your setter what play your team is running. Your setter should give you a signal just before the ball is served that tells you not only what set you should approach for, but where the other hitters will be going so you can all stay out of each other's way.

As you get more advanced in team volleyball, the plays get more complicated. Hitters can criss-cross all over the court in an effort to lose the middle blocker.

Watch the Pass

Once the ball is served, watch to see what kind of pass your team gets to your setter. If you are a middle blocker, you will most often not be asked to pass so you can concentrate on getting up for the quick set. But if you see that the ball is passed off the net and the setter cannot possibly set you a quick, it is your responsibility to call off the play and call for a different set. This way you remain an offensive threat and don't allow their blockers to most likely a high set.

After the middle blocker jumps to block and the ball crosses back into his side of the court, he must transition quickly from defense to offense. The middle position must back off the net to the three meter line as fast as possible, change direction and approach in time to make himself available for a quick set.

If your teammates dig the ball right to the setter, this will happen in mere seconds. Make sure to call out to your setter to let him know what set you are approaching to hit.

If the ball is not put right on the setter's head or it happens too quickly for you to get off the net and into an approach, follow the set to the hitter the setter chooses and cover your hitter.