I came across a coach on Facebook asking for “any drills/conditioning for middles getting up quicker on quicks.” There are five ways to think about this issue.
First, let’s consider the players technique. What does their starting posture look like, and how do they execute the block movement? If there’s a flaw there, then obviously it should be addressed. I’ll leave the conversation about what that looks like for somewhere else. It’s probably not the biggest consideration here anyway.
There are, of course, ways of training players to be more explosive in quick reaction situations. This is through physical development. I don’t mean doing things like footwork ladders and many of the sort of “reaction” exercises you see out there. I mean increasing the player’s capacity to move explosively through neuromuscular development (e.g. weight training).
As I wrote about in my How do I make players quicker? post, the place where you generally see the biggest improvement in quickness is developing anticipation and recognition. The earlier a middle recognizes the quick attack, the faster they can get up to block it. You don’t need a new drill to do this. You just need to get the middle focused on reading the play and the setter in any blocking situation. Some of it you can do with video.
Of course the fastest way to get a block up on a quick is for it to simply commit. If you consider the other team’s quick a major threat, or you know when they are very likely to set it, you can commit block. That way there’s no reaction. The middle just goes up with the quick hitter.
None of what I’ve talked about to this point matters much if the blocker can’t time their block properly. If you’re blocker has this problem, they often don’t realize it. The ball gets past them, but they don’t know why. You need to make sure they get good feedback. Video can be very useful here.
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