Helping yourself… key points for players who are just starting out!

By Matt Rogers

Going into a match/competition can be quite daunting.  This short summary pulls together the key points to think about when going from training to actual game situations.  It is designed to be the last thing to read to focus the mind and make sure decisions are made to ‘make the boat go faster’.  So, how can you help yourself when…


  • Have a routine
  • Have an intention
  • Take your time (8 seconds)
  • Know the weak(er) receivers of the opposition
  • Serve to the spaces
  • Focus on your ball contact (golfers swing principle)
  • Be positive


  • COMMUNICATE BEFORE – be a unit!
  • Start up just behind 2m line and be prepared to move backwards
  • See what is the server telling you – cues (shoulder direction) – What are their dominant serves?
  • COMMUNICATE DURING – call for the ball before it crosses the net
  • Make sure you can see the server/ball (don’t be behind the block)
  • Have your hands on the ground when they contact the ball (being ready to move)
  • Get behind and under the ball – to play it high
  • Change things if it isn’t working (move blockers/add an additional passer/move forwards or backwards)


  • Know where your best hitters are
  • Make a decision based on the pass
  • Set the ball away from blockers reach
  • Set the ball off the net to a ‘ready’ attacker


  • Get the ball to the nominated setter
  • If the server doesn’t serve a blockable serve, turn and prepare to attack – next job
  • Get off the net to make an approach
  • Shout when you are free to attack (so setter knows)
  • Decide power or tip based on situation
  • Use the block or find some space


  • Know who is your opponent (person in opposite position on court, 2-4, 3-3, 4-2)
  • Press high on point of their contact
  • Move to be in line with their hitting arm
  • Turn the palms of your hands to 6 (centre back position)
  • BE STRONG – a good blocker is someone that wants and intends to block the attacker
  • If unsuccessful, turn and be ready to attack back


  • Read the attackers intentions
  • Hands down if expecting a tip shot / hands up if expecting a powerful spike
  • Play the ball high and towards the setting position
  • Plan for your next likely job