The Basics of Back Row Defense in Beach Volleyball

At Beach Nation we teach and believe that it is important for a team to consistently set up in the same spot on defense once the ball is put into play. This is irrespective of if the defender or their partner is serving.

Let’s focus on where the back court defender should start on defense and the four reasons why.

As soon as the ball has been served the back defender should move in to the deep middle of the court roughly 3-5 feet from the end line if they are not already standing there. Their shoulders should be facing the net and they should be in an athletic stance ready to move.

  1. By being in the last 5 feet of the court the defender only has to worry about potentially moving 180 degrees rather than 360 degrees. Essentially a half circle instead of a full circle as the defender would have to move left, right and / or forward only.
  2. The next reason the back defender should be in the deep middle of the court is to be aware of the possibility of an inadvertent or purposeful pass over on the first contact. The back defender is the primary person responsible to defend the first contact as the blocker will either be at the net or running up to the net and will be able to take only a small amount of the court. The majority of the court needs to be taken by the back defender who should be in a static position ready to move.
  3. The third reason to be in this position is to put yourself in the best position possible in order to defend and dig an over-on-2 attack by the setter. This could include a hit or shot, a hand set over the net on purpose, as well as a bump set over the net on purpose. By being in the deep middle of the court you can better assess the pass and if it has the potential to be attacked by the setter. If you assess the pass as a threat to be attacked on 2, then take your eyes off the pass and look at the setter / potential attacker as they are going to tell you what they are going to do with the pass. From your deep middle position you can best see what your opponent is going to do and put yourself in a position to best defend the on two attack if needed.
  4. Lastly, consistently starting in the same spot in the back middle will insure your opponents never have any clue as to what you are going to be doing in regards to your block / defense. Many younger and even some older players see that their blocker is blocking line and immediately set up in the angle. Some even going so far as to set up before their partner has even served the ball. Talk about telegraphing what you are going to do before that ball is in play!

Consistency in beach volleyball is a theme we teach, and setting up on defense is no different. By starting out in the deep middle on defense you are giving nothing away to your opponents and are putting yourself in the best position possible to defend the on one and two attacks from your opponent. See you on the beach!

About the Author

Todd Rogers is a Founding Coach at Beach Nation, the Official Beach Education Partner of the JVA. Todd is a 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist and Cal Poly Head Beach Coach Todd Rogers. He and his former partner, Phil Dalhausser, were the 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 AVP Tour Champions and 2008 FIVB World Champions.

The world class coaching staff at Beach Nation has unparalleled experience ranging from teaching the youngest athletes in club volleyball to winning the FIVB World Championships, winning an Olympic Gold Medal, and every level in between.

Originally published in Junior Volleyball Association.

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