Representations of the target to defend and attack orientations

Player training from beginner to expert (from the most elementary one versus to the most elaborated game systems at six versus six) will cause an evolution of representations of the target to defend and of the organisation and intervention modes.

We can identify the players' current representations, make them evolve and stabilise from real game situations thanks to these two additional methods:

Simple questioning method

In 1 versus 1:

  • Where did the ball come from?
  • Where can he send it?
  • Where should you place yourself to be able to play?
  • Why?

2 or more players:

  • Who should play this ball?
  • Why?
  • Here, who is playing the ball?

Complexity and game level

We have highlighted that essentially, complexity comes from uncertainty and the delay it induces into the action. This is why building representations of the targets is not reserved to higher levels of game. It occurs from the start under simple form and builds up as technical potentials of attacking players evolve.

Consultation "from cold" of the following models can seem complex and boring for the new comer. In practice these models build gradually from game situations. Who does what? Why?

With the infinite multiplicity of game situations these models appear to be the invisible structure of the game and bring the player, from a reduced information (ball position in particular) to simple and therefore quick organisation and decision. This is indispensable in volley-ball. Anticipation as cornerstone in volley-ball is not a gift, an innate speediness quality. It is built before the visible action.

Graphic representation

The use of graphic representation and oral communication favours the construction and memorisation of an abstract organisation model which goes beyond the particular practical cases used as examples, to become permanent tools for game analysis.

Exchanges and discussions around real game situations and graphic representations allow to find the possible maladjustments between the players and to build a common reference system for organisation and game reading.

See on this subject: the teacher's intervention.

Organisation modes one versus one

Representation of the attacked target:

Representation of the target to defend:

The novice focused on the ball places himself in the front half or the middle of the court. The ball IS the target and the player "follows" the ball and is regularly "glued" to the net. He will learn to evaluate the space he covers behind him and to place the space to defend in front of him.

Target zones: tactical and technical principles

For the attack:

Attack aims at uncertainty zones where decision can be delayed and where players can get in each-other's way during their movement. At a higher level we will also try and upset the opponent's preferred attack.

For the defence:

Zones are split in sectors. Player place themselves behind the intervention zones. In the beginning they stand in the middle of their sector then they stand on the edge of this sector in order to limit uncertainty in the direction of the move. This position favours a side move where the player will look for a support beyond the trajectory to receive the ball as often as possible between his supports and always have hitting surfaces facing the target (the setter).

To cover uncertainty zones we define a priority player and we communicate ("got it!"). The priority player is not simply the one closest to the ball. It is also the one whose movement is best oriented for game construction and the one who "liberates" another player for this construction.

See on this subject: defending court and sending towards a target.

Organisation modes 2 versus 2

Defending collectively supposes building a common representation of the surfaces threatened by the service or the attack and their layout and adapting them constantly to the ball movements.

We commonly represent these threatened zones with angle sectors, but if the target happens to be the ground, the trajectory is drawn in length, in height and from right to left (in three axes) which represents a cone and projects to the ground a conical shape. We can picture this representation by imagining the beam of a theatre floodlight on the stage, the ball taking the place of the floodlight; even if in reality trajectories do not follow a straight line.

Most of the time beginners share the court sideways (one to the right and one to the left) and during the game can find themselves in front of each-other. It looks like they are not taking the game situation into account: service, attack from the middle of the opposite court, attack close to the net.

In Beach Volley (2 versus 2) organisation must be very rigorous and very early.

Attack targets and defensive organisation for 2 on opposing serve:

Graphics showing reduced play areas (two per court) as can be used in teaching.

We show in yellow the lost sensitive zones that the opponent will try and reach.

  • Court A: uncertainty zone on short serve.
  • Court B: uncertainty angle on long serve.

Organisation with priority player: Compared with their initial placement, the two players have moved. This way the most forward player becomes priority on short serves and the furthest player takes priority on long serves.

In serve reception with 1 player we eliminate the decision delay but the player must have a good reading of the trajectory and a short reaction time to intervene in the forward zone on the outside angles that the serve can aim at.

Attack targets and defensive organisation for 2 on opposing spike:

We consider two cases:

  • First an attack close to the net which allows a block.
  • Second an attack at middle distance without block.

Team B players pre-place a blocker in B1 and a player in rear defence.
If the attacking hit is close to the net the forward player blocks.
The rear player turns to face the attacker in the angle left open by the block.

If the attacking hit is far from the net the B blocker retreats in defence.
At the moment of the hit, players move towards the inside of the defended sector and communicate.

Organisation modes 4 versus 4

With beginners, priority still goes to hitting the ball and not collectively defending the ground target.

They do not clearly represent the space to defend behind them and even less the complementarities of the team members. This organisation mode multiplies the badly defended zones requiring to step back and uncertainty zones between forward / back and right/left positions.

Most players fail to see their partners positions and they don't communicate trajectories in uncertainty zones.

See the video

Spread "all over he place" players multiply uncertainty zones.

See the video

At reception, three players against the net and another forced to step away to see the ball , the back zone is hardly defended the possibilities of hindrance are many.

Attack targets and defensive organisation for 4 on opposing service:

Here we take into account the various positions of the server and the trajectories they imply.

3 zones are vulnerable from the outset. We need to pick a priority player for these zones.
On short serve, when the server is in the middle of the service line, the confusion zone is between players 1-2-6.

  • He steps back. This way he opens the reception angle represented with the triangle he is heading. This makes reception easier and avoids a return into the net.
  • It is then player 5 who is best oriented to secure the reception.

From the right hand side of the back of the court the server can produce a long diagonal trajectory (floating service in straight line for example) or short.

  • Player 5 is priority for short serves because he is best placed to detect the short trajectory and he is facing the setter.
  • Player 1 on a long serve has time to move back and can send the ball back inside the court.
  • This way player 6 remains available as support then as attacker.

From the middle, the server can serve long in the diagonal, between the players, or short.

Roles are distributed:

  • Number 1 is placed for diagonal balls.
  • Number 6 plays the balls between him and number 1. He will be best oriented facing the setter.
  • Number 5 plays short trajectories

From the left hand side of the line the player can play the long diagonal or serve short.
In both cases player 5 is correctly placed and well oriented to be priority.

Attack targets and defensive organisation for 4 on opposing spike:

Here we look at the various positions and distances of the attack which justify or not a block.

In the simplest classic organisation in corridors, players defend by moving forwards to the net.

In the defensive organisation by angle sectors, more suitable when attack becomes performant, the players defend by moving towards the inside of the court. Depending on the position of the attack the system "tips" from right to left while keeping its organisation principle.

  • On a right wing attack we find the same logic reversed.
  • On an attack feet on the ground the block is no longer justified. The organisation principle remains the same but the forward player steps back.
    The system tips if the attack comes from the other side.
  • On an attack from far in the centre players do not stand in the centre of the angle sector to defend as this would fix them and multiply uncertainty. They place themselves on the edge to close the angle at the moment of the hit.
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