When I work on blocker mechanics with my players there are a couple of key points I try to get them to focus on in their execution. One of them is what they do with their hands. The tendency among blockers is to just put their hands up above their heads. Maybe they get a bit of penetration over the net. If you’re a massive player and/or have a huge jump, then this might work just fine. Most mere mortal volleyball players, though, need something a bit more to execute good blocks.

What I have my players work on is pointing their thumbs up such that rather than the fingers extending the line of the forearms, it is the thumb that does so. This rotates the fingers outward, thereby broadening the block in the area of the hands.

The act of pointing the thumbs up also tends lock the elbows. Many newer blockers have the problem of never actually getting their arms fully extended. This thumb pointing can help correct that problem. If you really get them to focus on pushing their thumbs up and not just turning the hand it will help get the shoulder shrug into their block that gives them that little bit more length in their arms which could make all the difference.

See also blocking visual cues.

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John Forman
John Forman

John is currently the Talent Strategy Manager (oversees the national teams) and Indoor Performance Director for Volleyball England, as well as Global Director for Volleyball for Nation Academy. His volleyball coaching experience includes all three NCAA divisions, plus Junior College, in the US; university and club teams in the UK; professional coaching in Sweden; and both coaching and club management at the Juniors level. He's also been a visiting coach at national team, professional club, and juniors programs in several countries. Learn more on his bio page.

    2 replies to "Blocker Training: Get those thumbs up!"

    • Oliver Wagner

      Extending the arms is an important thing to do as a bocker. I also agree that pointing the thumbs up does help with the extending part. But it creates a disadvantage in the stabillity part I think. The hands are the weakest part of a block anyway. Rotating them makes them even easier to use against you.

    • John Forman

      I would clarify and say that the fingers are the weakest part of the block, not the hands in general because the palms (if the blocker is properly flexed and timed) should be relatively strong and dynamic (able to be angled, etc.). Technically speaking, since the fingers take up the same amount of space regardless of how you rotate them (assuming a consistent spread), they aren’t any more or less easy to use. If you can get that little bit further across the net in your block penetration by extending through the thumbs, though, it can make a real difference in your overall effectiveness.

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