In volleyball, as in most sports, the ability to defend will ultimately determine the degree of success you experience. To be great at defending, players must be able to get into a proper defensive position and learn the fundamental techniques for digging.
In the clip below Terry Liskevych, former Oregon State Head Coach, and Emily Hiza, Colorado State Asst. Coach, discuss defensive position and digging. The clip is from The Art of Coaching Volleyball. You can get more great coaching tools be visiting their site at the link above, or you can check our more videos at The Art of Coaching Volleyball YouTube Channel
The YouTube video below has sound, so please make sure that your sound is turned on and that you have access to the site. (Some schools block access to YouTube)
Most of the defense in volleyball is played while the ball is on the other side of the net; therefore players must understand where they need to be and be able to get into the proper defensive position. In order to get into that position, it is imperative that players keep their knees off the floor. Staying on their feet, getting to the right spot, and getting in proper defensive position will enable them to execute the fundamentals of digging the volleyball.
In the proper defensive position a player should have their legs wider than shoulder width apart. Their weight should be somewhat on their toes. The toes should be pointed slightly inward as the position will allow them to move forward more easily. The knees should be forward and the shoulders forward above the knees. This defensive position will allow players to move forward and collapse when digging
The first step in collapsing should be to bring your platform to the ground behind the ball. Next, the elbows bend so that the platform is under the ball and then to finish simply extend forward.
When digging a ball that is far enough in front of you that you must step forward, the following coaching points are important. You should lean forward with your body so that it is close to the leg you stepped with. The toes should be pointed inward. This will allow you to fall on your hip instead of the knee as you extend out for the ball. From this extended position you recover with a barrel roll.