As a Stanford All American, Cary Wendell Wallin racked up 1,319 digs, won two national championships and was the NCAA Player of the Year. That makes her a good source for tips on playing defense, so we asked her to share 5 good ones. Here’s what she came up with:
1. Rather than bailing out away from a ball because you think someone else has it, always move toward the ball and in front or behind of another player as backup. Better to have 2 players there than none. Remember, if it’s close to you, it’s yours.
2. Try not to be out of position. It’s one thing to read a play and react; it’s another to just creep way into no man’s land and then have the ball land right where you were supposed to be standing. You’re going to be in different spots depending on where the set is, so it’s important that you read and adjust. Once you’ve made your read, though, be sure to STOP when the hitter makes contact with the ball. If you’re still moving and the ball goes in a different direction, it’s much harder to make a move for it than if you’re stationary.
3. Don’t stand on your heels when someone is hitting the ball at you. Be on your toes and have an aggressive defensive posture. Expect the ball to come to you.
4. Don’t fall down for balls before you get to them. TIMBER! Use your feet to run to the ball. Dig first, then worry about how you’re hitting the ground. And keep in mind that if you stay low to the ground as you move, it’s easier to run quickly and also easier to hit the ground. Plus, it gives you more time to react to the ball.
5. When you’re in the cover position, don’t watch the hitter hit the ball. Instead, look at 2 things: the court, so you can see what’s open and tell the hitter, and the block, so you’re ready to react to a blocked ball. Specifically, look at the blocker’s hands for clues as to where the ball might go.
For tips from Cary on adjusting your defensive position to what’s happening on the other side of the net, check out the video!