Digging - Learning Defensive Skills
Volleyball drills digging - how to play defense? Find out how to
practice different volleyball digging techniques.
Volleyball Digging - Optimal Defensive Position
As we talked in the volleyball skills section, sometimes the player is
not able to contact the ball in front of her, in the optimal defensive
position. It is always the target to contact the ball in the optimal
defensive position, but it simply doesn’t happen in
Therefore players need to be able to dig the ball 1) on the side
or 2) over head.
Volleyball Drills Digging – Ball on the Side
The assistant throws balls to the left side and right side of the
When digging on the side, the player..
- takes a step on the left/right side – and turns
the body and moves the arm platform to the side the ball falls.
- turns the arm platform towards the target (a
setter in the match) – by placing the other arm/hand higher than the
Volleyball Drills Digging – “Over Head” Dig
The assistant throws the defensive ball over head and the player..
- lifts hands up to defend the ball “over head”
- If the ball is in front of the head or directly
above the head.. the player just “sets the ball”, by keeping shoulders,
triceps and wrist muscles “sturdy” – having hands closer together –
fingers “tighter and strong” to avoid ball coming through the hands.
- If the ball is on the left or right side…. The
player moves hands on the side to form a “cup platform”, which the
fingers slow down the speed of the ball and direct the ball towards the
target. It is important that thumbs are pointing up to the ceiling –
they are not “under the ball” like in the volleyball setting.
Volleyball Drills Digging - Hard Driven Spike
It is important the player understands to place the platform on
different angle when defending the hard driven spike.
Platform Higher - Towards Ceiling
When defending a hard driven spike, the platform needs to be higher,
approximately on the shoulder level – pointing towards the ceiling. It
allows digging straight up.
(Notice: When digging a slower ball, the
platform can be pointing towards the setter. In modern volleyball the
goal is to "shoot" the ball as quickly as possible to the setter's
Phase II - From Throw into the Spike
As mentioned before, it is beneficial to learn various techniques one
by one - learning one technique at the time.
When those different techniques have been introduced first by throwing
the ball, the coach can move into spiking the ball towards defender.
The drill is performed exactly like above, but instead of throw, the
assistant spikes the ball to the defender.
Phase III – Hitting the Ball Over the Net
When all the techniques have been introduced and practiced for a while,
players are ready to perform volleyball digging techniques on
Players will move into the defensive position by shuffling
few steps – and the coach (or player) spikes the ball to the defender.
Again, it is important to progress one digging technique at the time.
Players should work on 1) digging the ball on the side, 2) digging a
hard driven ball, 3) digging overhead, etc.
Practicing one skill at the time helps players to
learn different techniques correctly – and
also in less time.
One Skill at the Time vs. All Simultaneously
By working on all different defensive techniques
simultaneously - some of the techniques get ignored - and overall the
techniques are learned much slower pace. Or when playing players use
techniques they are most
comfortable with - and players won't get enough repetitions for all the
Therefore to make sure players get exposed to all the
techniques it is benecial to practice them separately.
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