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Volleyball/Blocking A Back Row Attack


Good evening Tom,

It's been a while since I connected with you, but I see you're still giving out excellent advice.  We appreciate it.

My daughter Gabby (6'3" MB with a 116" block) played in a match tonight against a team that attacked from the back row a lot.  The other player is a very good (heading to K-State), but to me, it looked like her attacks we not necessarily that high above the net, so I felt it was possible to block.

Her high school and club coaches have always taught her to fall back and not attempt a block a back row attack, but I'm wondering what your thought are.  Should a MB ever attempt to block a back row attack, or away fall back?

- Sam

Hello Sam!
It's great to hear from you tonight.  
* It's an interesting concept to drop back during a back row attack.  Some coaches believe that, "Our defense/digging should be SO good that no back row attack can consistently beat us." I disagree.  
* My teams are taught to defend the back row attack just like we defend the front row attack. We double each and every one.  I tell my kids, "It's better to block too long than not block long enough....and be embarrassed as someone's pipe hit sizzles by your ear."  My philosophy has are several advantages:
1) We have to learn only a defenses vs. a hit:  double/triple the right, or middle, or left and free ball.
2) We will stuff block the good hits, thereby making our lives easier (saw one of my ex-MBer's block a FREE BALL tonight!  Her team EXPLODED with smiles, and the other team was pretty irritated!)
3) Our front row players won't be coming off the net screening our back row players;
4) Our front row players won't be forced to pass the short balls.  With my philosophy, I guess 95% of those balls will either be blocked or they'll be passed by a back row player.   
So, even at 15's, if my players say, "How do we defend against an "A" set?", I answer, "Just like it was a front row attack."  

A few facts about back row attacks:
1) The hitter can't bounce 'em off the floor b/c she's too far away from the net.
2) So, the kill is earned by hitting the ball HARD, LOW and into the corners b/c that will avoid blockers.  In your case, there are no blockers, so it's my opinion that the kill is easier.  
In my opinion, if you double the back row hit, I think it makes the kill harder to earn.  
When my team attends BigSouth, Jr Nationals, etc., I've always felt like we had more success hitting back row vs. the few teams that use the defense that you described.  

Sam, I want to win more state championships.  I want to win a National Qualifier.  I want to win a National Championship. I believe my team has a better chance by putting up huge blocks vs. opponents' front row AND back row attacks.   

That's my opinion.   
I hope you have some feedback.  I'd love to hear it.  :)

Next:  My staff and I would love to come to your area and direct a camp! All the info a coach needs is at  And on Dec 2, all the non-renewed weeks are up for grabs!  It's always a fun day!  

I hope it's been a great vball season!
Let me know how it goes!


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Tom Houser


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