The Middle Episode
The Role of The Middle Hitter/BlockerThe middle position is primarily responsible for blocking and hitting. Middles should be able to recognize the opposing team’s offense, know who the hitters on the other team are, and do their best to put a block in front of the hitter. Middles are expected to block every player on the opposing team, no matter where the ball comes across the net.
Do Middles Have to Be Tall?
Like most questions I answer, this comes down to the fact that it’s all relative. It depends on your team, your coach, your athleticism, and the opposing team.
The short answer is no. Middles do not have to be tall. Defensively, the job of the middle is to block. Therefore, as long as a middle can jump high enough to block, they are tall enough to be in the middle. If they cannot jump above the height of the net, but no one else on the team can either, then they can play middle.
As far as hight in relation to the middle hitting, well that isn’t a big deal at all. Instead of considering height, you should consider hitting percentage. A nice high hitting percentage (or higher than others on the team) will qualify you to play middle.
Block, Transition, Hit
As mentioned before, the primary role of the middle is to block and hit. In order to be excellent in the middle, you should learn the footwork to block, transition, and hit quickly and efficiently. The faster you move, the better you can be.
Practicing your footwork is actually really easy to do, and you can do it without any equipment at all. Start by looking like a blocker. Put your hands up by your eyes, elbows in front of your body. Bend your knees a little, bend your ankles a little. To be a good middle, you must be ready to move quickly, so make sure you can move easily from your blocking ready position.
When you move as a blocker, there are several different footwork patterns you can use. Ask your coach which one to use, or go to google and look up middle blocker footwork. After you block, transition to the 10’ line quickly and efficiently. Then immediately turn around and do your approach footwork to hit. Rest in your blocking ready position.
I know I used a lot of terms there but if you look through youtube you’ll be able to find all the information you need on transition work for middles. Hopefully one day soon, I'll have a few videos posted that can show you these moves in detail. (Subscribe to my youtube channel if you're interested in learning more about volleyball.)
Tips For Hitting In The Middle
The first thing I'll recommend to you, as a middle hitter, is to take a shorter approach than other players. Because middles are required to block every attack, they likely won't have the time to transition all the way back behind the 10' line. In that situation, they would skip the first step, and only use the last two steps of their approach.
The main rule her is to make sure you stay behind the setter. If she moves off the net, stay further off the net than she is.
If you want more information on that, click here to go to the article The 2 Most Likely Reasons You’re Hitting the Ball Out
Lucky for you, if you’re a middle, you’re going to get better sets than anyone else on the team. Or, at least, you should be getting better sets. Setters won't be able to set you from a ball that is passed to the 10’ line, and in the middle of the court. Most setters will set that ball to the outside hitter.
Outsides get a lot more sets than middles, but it’s because they get all the sets which come from bad passes. The good passes are much more likely to go to the middle. This means the setter will be in a good position when she is setting, and will be able to give you a good ball.
If you’re getting the better quality sets, then you’re hopefully going to have a better hitting percentage than the rest of the team. You can learn more about hitting percentage here.
Train Your Eyes
As much as you need to train your body to be quick and agile, you also must train your eyes. Instead of looking at the ball all the time, make sure you look at the opposing setter, and the opposing hitter. They will give you clues which will give you an advantage.
The setter’s body position will likely give away who she is setting. Take a look to see where she sets the ball, then switch your eyes to the hitter. Look at their line of approach to the net, look at their hips, take a look at their shoulder and arm. All of these things will give you some clue as to what they are going to do.
I hope you found something in this helpful, as always, you can leave a comment with questions.
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