Blocking is a crucial defensive action in volleyball, and if it’s done right, it can not only prevent the attacking team from scoring, but also score a point. Since blocking requires touching, a lot of people ask does a block count as a hit in volleyball.
No, a block does not count as a hit in volleyball. According to FIVB’s newest volleyball rulebook, the team is entitled to three touches after a block contact.
There are a few variations of this rule, especially if there are several touches or if one of the blocking rules is broken, which is what we’re going to take a look at in this article.
The Role of a Block in Volleyball
Players often wonder why coaches insist on so many blocking exercises, and when I played, I often asked that question too.
The block is the first line of defense against the opposition’s attack. If done successfully, a block can calm the ball down and allow your team to launch a counterattack. If you’re lucky enough, you can even score from a block.
There are a few different types of blocks, and they mainly differ by the number of people blocking and the direction of the ball after the block. By number, we have single, double, and a triple block, and by direction, we have offensive and defensive blocks.
In volleyball, only the frontline players can block the ball. A backline player blocking the ball is one of many examples of an illegal touch in volleyball. There are also a few other rules that we’ll discuss later.
In a single block, only one player blocks the ball. Double blocks involve two players, and triple blocks involve three players in an attempt to block the ball.
Two things are crucial with double and triple blocks; the players have to jump in unison, and two hands can never cover the same spot – the players’ hands need to be next to one another, but they can’t overlap because that leaves empty space for the ball to pass through.
Triple blocks have the highest chances of success, obviously, as it’s more difficult to avoid six hands than four or two. However, the number of people throwing themselves at the ball isn’t the only thing determining the success of a block.
If the setter sets the ball high enough and the hitter spikes it, the ball becomes almost impossible to block. Blocking lower balls is much easier than blocking higher balls, no matter how many players are making the block.
We also have defensive and attacking blocks.
Defensive blocks (also known as soft blocks) slow the ball down and make it much easier for the defensive team to control it, set it, and spike it to the other side of the court. Attacking blocks, on the other hand, return the ball to the attacking team’s side of the court.
If you’re dealing with a hitter that hits the ball perfectly and from a great height every time, you’ll most likely soft block them every time.
Attacking blocks are much better for the team than defensive blocks, but they’re also much more difficult to pull off. When the ball bounces back to your side of the court from an attacking block, you have a very small time frame for catching the ball, which is why attacking blocks often score a point too.
For an attacking block to be successful, though, you have to position your hands in front of the ball perfectly. Once it hits your palm(s), it will bounce back into the opposition’s side of the court.
Volleyball, however, is a very quick sport, and placing your hands perfectly in such a short time is instinctive and reflexive, not something you can plan for.
Aside from differing blocks by number of blockers and ball direction after the block, we also have positional types.
The weak side blocker blocks the left side, the strong side blocker blocks the right side, and the middle blocker blocks the, you guessed it, the middle of the net.
Middle blockers are usually the busiest out of the three, as they often help out their partners on the frontline.
Blocks can be achieved from a standing position, which is your traditional block, or from a moving position. This is called the swing block, and it’s incredibly useful.
A swing block is achieved by running and jumping – not jumping from a standing position. You’ll jump noticeably higher from a swing jump because of all the running momentum, but they can be difficult to achieve because volleyball usually doesn’t give you too much time, so running isn’t always an option.
Rules Regarding Touches in Volleyball
FIVB’s official rulebook offers the simplest explanation of the three touch rule.
“The object of the game is to send the ball over the net in order to ground it on the opponent’s court, and to prevent the same effort by the opponent. The team has three hits for returning the ball (in addition to the block contact).”
This also gives us the answer to the “is a block considered a hit in volleyball” question. A volleyball block touch doesn’t count as part of the three touches given to the team.
There are a few other touch rules we have to take a look at.
Firstly, a player can’t hit the ball two times consecutively. You can hit the ball, have another player hit it, and then you can hit it again, but you can’t do it twice in a row.
Note that this rule does not apply to touching the ball with two body parts. For example, if you dig the ball, you’ll hit it with two forearms – this is okay and it doesn’t count as hitting the ball twice.
Two or three players can hit the ball at the same moment – simultaneous touches like that are allowed. However, this counts as two or three touches (depending on how many players touched the ball).
You can touch the ball with literally any body part, but you can’t catch it or throw it – you have to bounce it back.
These are the most important rules when it comes to touches, but we also have to remember that aside from the ball, teammate contact is possible.
You are not allowed to touch your teammates in an attempt to assist them. You can pull your teammates back from the net or from getting the ball if you want to prevent them from committing a foul, but you can’t assist them in any way.
Does a Block Count as One of the Three Allowed Touches?
No, the block does not count as one of three allowed touches, which technically means that a team gets four touches during a play.
In volleyball, a block touch is completed whenever you make contact with the ball. If you try to block the ball but don’t succeed at it, that’s considered a block attempt, but it’s not a completed block.
In the case of collective blocks, when two or three players try to block the ball simultaneously, the ball can hit all three players and the defending team still gets three touches.
Normally, when someone asks how many times can you hit a volleyball, we reflexively say three, but it’s technically possible to hit the ball six times.
When you block the ball, you’re also allowed to hit it afterwards. This is more common than many people think; you block the ball, it bounces straight up, and you then set it for your player. It’s perfectly legal.
First of all, you can’t touch the net during blocking. You generally aren’t allowed to touch the net in volleyball, so this should go without saying.
There are only five illegal blocks possible in volleyball. Firstly, you can’t touch the ball in the opponent’s space before they hit it. So, if the opponent’s setter sends the ball towards the hitter, you can’t touch the ball before the hitter touches it first.
Secondly, liberos and backline players can’t participate in blocks.
You also aren’t allowed to block the opponent’s service, you can’t block from outside the antenna (you can’t block from out of bounds).
Finally, a block that lands out of bounds is considered a foul, and it’s a point to the opposite team.
Impact of This Rule on Strategy and Gameplay
Because of this rule, coaches will naturally order all three frontline players to block whenever that’s possible. If done correctly, you’ll either score a point or make the backline’s job a whole lot easier.
To improve the chances of successfully blocking, taller players are usually set on the front line. On average, they can jump higher and they have longer arms, providing them with crucial reach.
Since the middle blocker faces the most blocks during the game, they’re often the tallest player.
If you take a look at the short segment below, you’ll see that the frontline on both sides consists of the tallest players in the team.
This is also a good example of a double attacking swing block that results in the white team scoring a point.
A well-trained team can block a lot of shots, which poses a question for the coaches – how do you go around the blocks?
The answer is that you don’t only go around, but you also go above. There are a few options, but two great options are either forcing all your balls on your tallest hitter.
If your setter sets the balls tall enough, and your hitter is a tall person who can jump really high, it’s highly unlikely that a team will block many of their shots.
The second option, in case your tallest hitter isn’t available, is hitting the ball from the back line. This is an attacking plan not a lot of coaches like to use, but you can set the ball for one of the players on the backline and they can spike it from there.
The issue is, spiking the ball from the backline doesn’t leave a lot of room for error. When you’re spiking the ball from the frontline, all you have to do (just so you know, this is oversimplification on my part, but it’s essentially true) is spike the ball downward as hard as you can.
If you’re spiking from the backline, though, you can’t just aim downwards. You have to aim frontwards and towards at the same time, usually at an angle of about 45°.
If you just aim in front of you, the ball will go out of bounds, and if you just aim downwards, you’ll hit your own side of the court. This type of spike requires more precision than regular spiking.
Oh, and if that isn’t hard enough, you also can’t cross into the front line! If you’re spiking from the backline, you have to jump before the attack line.
This all sounds very complicated, not to mention very difficult, but if the player does all of it right, they can just spike the ball past the block.
Aside from going above or around the block, teams often use decoys. When the setter is setting the ball, you’ll sometimes see two players making the jump for the spike.
One of the two players is actually making a decoy run, drawing the attention of the blocking players, while the other player will actually spike the ball and easily score because no one is blocking them.
Why Does a Block Not Count as a Hit in Volleyball?
A block is a defensive action, while passing, setting, and spiking the ball are attacking actions. If a block counted as a hit, it would slow down play and make it much more difficult. Additionally, players don’t have a lot of control over the ball when blocking, which can’t be said for passing, setting, and spiking.
Can You Hit a Volleyball Again After a Block?
Yes, you can hit the ball again after blocking it. The same player can touch the ball twice if one of the touches was a block.
Does a Block Count as a Touch in Beach Volleyball?
Yes, a block does count as a touch in beach volleyball, which is one of the biggest differences between indoor and beach volleyball. Hits aren’t as nearly as strong as during indoor games, so the blocker has much more control over the ball. Because of this, consecutive touches would make the game too easy.
Does a Dig Count as One of Your Team’s 3 Touches?
Yes, unlike a block, a dig does count as one of the three touches.
What Is an Illegal Block in Volleyball?
Illegal blocks are fouls made during blocking, with points awarded to the opposition every time they happen. Illegal blocks include: backline players blocking, ball going out of bounds, blocking from out of bounds, blocking the service, blocking the ball in the opponent’s space before they hit it.
Can Setters Block?
If the setter is in the front line, then yes, they can ball. However, backline setters can’t block.
Is 4 Man Block Allowed in Volleyball?
No, only frontline players are allowed to block. The players in the backline aren’t allowed to block.