When playing competitive indoor volleyball, one defensive system is called Perimeter Defense, since your backrow players hug the perimeter of the court to dig an attack from the opponent. It is a well-known defense strategy used by many players.
Follow these directions to learn how to play Perimeter Defense:
- Start at base. As the diagrams show, before the opposition sends the ball back to your side of the court, your team should get into the default defensive position, also known as "Base," until you can better judge how and where the ball will be returned to you. You can begin to make educated guesses about the opponent's options after you see how successful their first contact with the ball went. Did they shank the pass? Or was it sent perfectly to the target area, and the setter was in position to get a second touch on it?
- Release. Assuming your opponent successfully passes the ball to the setter, you are still trying to anticipate where it will go. If the setter's in the front row, she could dump the ball. If she does set it, it can go to any of the 2-3 front row players to attack. The moment she sets it, you will usually know what direction the ball will be going. At this point, you release into your perimeter defense.
- Back left and back right players release to the sidelines. Your outside foot here is the foot closest to the sideline. Your inside foot is the foot closest to the inside of the court and the hitter. If the hitter is diagonally opposite of you, use crossover steps to immediately hug the sideline with your outside foot, about 13-14 feet from the net. Crossover steps help you get to the sideline without ever taking your eyes off the ball. You should end with your shoulders square to the hitter's hitting shoulder, ready to dig a hard-driven ball. With Perimeter Defense, it's always better to stay closer to the sideline than to be too close to the middle of the court. It's always easier to lunge forward to get a softer-hit ball than it is to shift your weight backwards to get one that's hit beyond you. This may seem like the most simple of all volleyball tips, but is easily forgotten in the midst of the game.
- Middle back player hugs the endline. The middle back player should always be following the hitter's hitting arm. If the opponent is hitting from your court's right side, the middle back should shift leftwards. If the opponent is hitting from your court's left side, the middle back should shift right. If the attack is coming from the middle of the court, you take a small step left or right to still line up with the hitter's hitting arm. The key for the middle back is to stay deep in the court and let the back left and back right players handle the majority of the balls that land in the middle. This will, of course, adapt depending on the agility of your back row of players, and the intensity of your opponents' attacks. In some cases, the middle back ends up having to get both the deep balls and the ones that go in the middle of the court, so agility and aggressiveness are key traits for anyone in this position.
- Non-passers cover the passer. Other volleyball techniques apply to teammates. As a backrow player, if it's obvious that you won't be passing the ball, don't just stand there watching your teammate passing it. Your teammate may mis-pass the ball, bobbling it to their side or behind them. Back-row players that are not passing the ball should still go and cover the passer - you should be close enough to touch her. The key here is to effectively support your teammate: confirm with her if the ball is in or out, and be there in case she shanks a pass.
Once the ball has been passed to the target (the setter), you're now ready to transition to offense. Hopefully this article has added to your volleyball plays and will set you up for a win! Good luck and happy digging!