Beach Volleyball Positioning Blocker and Defender Training

If you're interested in this blog on serving and how to play defense in beach volleyball, you may be interested in our serving course, which, of course, is the first line of defense in, ahem, defense. It'll will have you serving more accurately, with more power, in just a few weeks! We'd also love to have you drop by one -- or more -- of our beach volleyball classes, private lessons and training camps for adults and juniors in Hermosa Beach, CA and Salt Lake City, Utah. We run volleyball vacations in exotic locations around the world. We can even run beach volleyball clinics for your group, club or team in your hometown! Send an email to [email protected]

You guys asked, and we're going to deliver: You wanted to hear more about defense in beach volleyball, so that's what we're going to cover today. 

The video below is our match -- Mark Burik and Ian Satterfield -- vs. Sean Rosenthal and Chase Budinger at AVP San Francisco. One of the reasons that this video will be valuable to you is that it's an AVP professional beach volleyball match, and you can learn just about anything you'd want by watching AVP volleyball. The second, and most important, reason, is because is features Sean Rosenthal, who is one of the greatest defenders in beach volleyball history, and he's also just a standup guy who you should root for whenever he's not playing against the Better at Beach crew.

What we're covering in the video below is the positioning of the blocker and where the defender should be, or could be, throughout the extent of a point. What I'd love for you to do is watch and listen to this video, and then watch one of your own. 

How does your positioning look when compared to Sean Rosenthal's? How does your blocking positioning look when compared to Chase Budinger? 

One of the most useful aspects of film studying is comparing your film to that of the professionals', seeing the similarities and differences and where you can improve. 

And if you're looking to learn how to block in beach volleyball, and how to play defense in beach volleyball, there are few better to watch than Sean Rosenthal and Chase Budinger.

I want to remind you to subscribe, like, share and keep commenting so that I can keep bringing you guys some videos and information that you like, and follow us on


Do you want an AVP Pro to give you live critique and advice on YOUR GAME? 

Aside from actually practicing, there is NOTHING as crucial to your development as studying your own game and practice film. Professional teams from all sports spend 100’s of hours analyzing themselves on video from workouts, practices and competition. It’s time to get with the program. Purchase our One on One Video Analysis session and get a 45 minute detailed breakdown and review of your footage.

You will receive live feedback on all aspects of the game from ACTUAL PROFESSIONAL PLAYERS! You can expect to be coached on strategy, mechanics, offensive and defensive systems, overall performance and execution, and decision making.


Film a practice or a match with your phone or camera. Send it our way. Finally, one of our pro’s will watch your film with you via screen share and show you exactly where things go wrong and how to immediately get more points.

Better at Beach Volleyball Mastery


Transcript of the above video on beach volleyball defense 

What's up everybody. Thanks for coming back to my channel and checking out some more of my videos. Thanks for all the comments on the old ones. It sounds like you guys want to hear more about defense, so that's what we're going to go over today. We're going to talk about the positioning of the blocker and where the defender should be or could be throughout the extent of a point. I want to remind you to subscribe, like, share and keep commenting so that I can keep bringing you guys some videos and information that you like. And, as always, go ahead and follow along at Better at Beach!

As we can see here, Sean Rosenthal jump serves and steps right into the middle of the court. The blocker, Chase Budinger, has to start in the middle of the court. Now, why do we want him to start in the middle of the court instead of to one side or maybe the side that we're serving? It's so that he can defend the on one and on two attacks. Maybe there's going to be an overpass or unpredictable overpass, and he's equally distant from every area on the court. So he can make a clean move for the overpass to put it away immediately. He's also in a good position to protect the on two attack and that's massively important and it's getting more important as the game progresses. More and more teams are going on one and on two.

So we need to be prepared for that with a stable blocker in the middle of the court. Right here after Sean Rosenthal's serve, he gets into this shaded middle position, right? And this is where he's going to get for the majority of his beach volleyball points. As soon as he gets right here, he's just going to hold right here in his diagonal, making sure that the setter cannot go on two. Some defenders will go immediately to their position. But the main thing here is to make sure that you're prepared for anything that can happen. So as you see, Sean gets there and he's prepared for this set. Now he's able to make an athletic move if he needs to, just in case Ian Satterfield decides to do a standing on two attack, right? 

Chase is getting in front of me as the hitter. Okay. Now we can see that Sean made a late move into the cross. Sean's kind of a jumper. He has a big plant on defense and not a lot of players will do this, but Sean decides to do it. And he's been pretty successful with it. So Chase Budinger here is blocking line and his job is to get his chest in the middle of my attack arm. He doesn't quite do that. Maybe in this instance, don't know what was going through his head, but maybe he was trying to bait me into hitting a line shot. So fortunately I get it over him and we get a little high line kill again. We're going to talk more about defense today and where we should be standing. We can see that Ian Satterfield, my blocker here, is standing in the middle of the court.

Again, always protecting on two, and my job is to get in. Okay, now I didn't get very center, but I don't think Sean is a major attack here, right? He's not facing the net. He's not able to jump. He's forced into a bump set. I'm still though. I want to be actively prepared before the set contact. That way I don't lose any points on just being lazy and not being prepared for an on two attack. If you can win a ball with one touch or two touches, that's just being efficient and it's being smart. And if you're a team that's getting beat by one or two touches, then you need to make sure that you don't get beat anymore. 

Want to show your support and help us make more content? Buy a cool beach volleyball

Premium Tank Top Valor Fitness BD-19 Squat Rack and Bench Press Rack

So again, we're going to look at the blocker now. So Ian's protected the on two. He is positioning himself where he thinks Chase Budinger wants to end up. A lot of blockers would have immediately gone all the way out here to where Chase is standing. But we know that Chase likes to come in at an angle. So Ian gets a good idea of where Chase wants to end up hitting. And he stays inside there. Most left sides come in and attack at an angle. So this is where Ian positions himself. And it does a really good job. If you can see where he is, you know he holds himself into an area where they're setting up their hip. So really good job by Ian. And this looks like a line block, but he doesn't quite get his head in the middle of Chase's arm and Chase is up high right now.

I'm back here defending in the cross and I don't need to make a move because I see a pretty decent window. Chase does a good job of going up high. So I got stable early and this allowed me to make a play on the high line. And if you notice, this is a pretty good high line, but my defensive footwork is crossover dive. Right. And I've covered all, but maybe three to four feet of the court in one step and a dive. And I was able to get a touch on that. So, uh, we're going to keep talking here just for a little bit. And I would just want everybody to be comfortable on where the blocker is going to stand for these plays and that replay is not going to help us.

So Ian serves again, Sean is prepared here in the middle of the court. This is a focused defender. Sean Rosenthal's here, making sure that I can't go on two, I can't set over. And Chase is running towards the middle of the court. Yeah. This is important. This little crossover step here shows that Chase wasn't going directly at the hitter, Chase was centralizing himself, making sure or centralizing, centering. He's making sure that I can't attack on two, just the way that we made sure that he couldn't. Then he positions himself where we want to go. Okay. It's his body, right? Their head is pretty much on the shoulder and it looks like they're running a four block. Doesn't it? So we've got a diving cross block.

Sean Rosenthal leaves kind of late to go to that line. I think he moved a little bit too early here because Ian should be able to still see him out of his peripheral moving this early. So I think Sean wanted to wait just a little bit longer because Ian was able to see him and we get a nice overkill.

Ian's turn to serve and let's see if he approaches the middle of the court after the serve. Here we see Ian get himself in the middle of the court, protecting both, see that move, see this little lane to make sure that he is prepared for Chase. Right. Smart. That just means he's prepared. And now he can release that position and go over to Sean. All right. This is Ian's version of a three here. He takes this small jab step into the cross to try to make Sean feel like the blocker's in his cross. Right? And then he jabs steps out to the line, a little shift step, hoping to get Sean to hit into his block. Sean just goes bang cross. And he gets it there for a kill.

Okay. You can kind of see the timing that we matched on me and Ian here. Again, I've come from the center where I was protecting the on two. Then I can get into my defensive position. I wanted to make Sean believe that I was leaving. That's a pretty bad joke. I don't think he's believing anybody there, but I tried to get back into my position and hold and Sean gets a kill on us now. Jokes aren't for every play. And they shouldn't be for the majority of your volleyball plays, but they will be necessary if somebody is going to be getting a kill every single point, just make sure that you get stable early. That is the number one thing that I can tell defenders is get stable early and challenge the hitter's best shot to your best foot work, your best balanced footwork.

And after they get three, four, maybe five kills in a row comfortably from one position, then you can start throwing in some fakes and some Jukes. Of course that is unless you have a good scouting report on them.

Alright, next serve. Hopefully we can bait Chase Budinger into hitting a cross ball or an over line. Alright, not loving Ian Satterfield's path here. He almost centralizes himself. And we need to be a little bit more cautious on protecting that on two because he wouldn't have been anywhere near the ball if that got to Sean's right hand. So now he shifts, he finds where Chase Budinger wants to go. I'm holding middle as the defender. Now we can reposition. But where you remember, we have a four block. So Ian leaves himself sort of on the line here, I'm holding stable, stable, stable.

And this, I like the timing of this because I left way after his jump and I'm going for that high line. And then I guess Chase Budinger just saw in, right? Not every defensive play is going to work, but over time, every time you run a play, you should be paying attention to what the hitter did and why. Right. And Chase does a good job of putting this ball away, but still, I really like my timing here because I don't think Chase can see me on take off. Maybe he just felt he can take a big dive into the cross. And that's why he was able to hammer.

One more play, just talking briefly about defensive positioning and blocker positioning, right blockers in the middle of the court. We've talked about that. Sean Rosenthal serves it up and Chase Budinger is supposed to be protecting on two, doesn't believe in as any sort of threat.

So he's focused on me, right? Sean Rosenthal is there in the back middle waiting for me to hit and he wants to get me to shoot. Have you noticed this little move here? He either notices it's a tight ball or he wants to get me to shoot either one. If that shift into the middle happens, it usually means that he's trying to get the hitter to think, alright, that's one and force them into shooting. And then he's kept the court in half. Or he could have just noticed that this set was going tight. And so most players will poke short on tight balls. So Sean crashes in just a little bit and then gets stable, right? It's a pretty good move, making sure that he's prepared for anything they're sharp enough shot to get me a kill. So a quick lesson defender, make sure you're protecting middle for on one on two blocker.

Make sure that when you are approaching the net, you're approaching the middle, the space between the players because the setter is a hundred percent your first threat. And you have to protect that. If you're getting beat on one, on two, it is your team's fault. Work harder, stay focused and don't lose those easy points.

We got a lot more blogs coming out and more videos coming out. So stay tuned and hop on our email list. And if you ever want to come out to a camp or do a lesson with us, you are more than welcome. We are in Hermosa beach, California.


Join our email list and Get your FREE Drill Book >

If you want to become a digging machine, keep reading. We are going to help you master all of the defensive positioning, mechanics, reading and tactics for defenders. All you have to do is sign up for our Beach Volleyball Mastery. We also show you the right positioning and movement for every type of defense. THEN, we’ll show you when to use different defensive play calls to beat certain types of players. You’re going to learn how to flat-out SHUT ATTACKERS DOWN!

Once inside the membership, you’ll be able to unlock “Ultimate Defender: Skills, Drills and Strategies for Defenders" along with 9 more skill courses AND our 60 Day At-Home Max Vertical Jump Training Program.

Once you sign up, you'll be able to watch the in-depth tutorials, film your “before” videos, start and film your at-home drills and begin posting to our Private Facebook Group. Then, our coaches will break down your mechanics and positioning at our weekly online meetings. Yes, that means we look at YOUR videos and we coach YOU!

Facebook Group CTA VolleyChat! Get Better at Beach Volleyball for posts about common questions/ problems >


Join our email list today and we'll send you a FREE BEACH VOLLEYBALL DRILL BOOK!!!

Also receive new drills, tutorials, tips, special discounts and updates from our team. Your information will not be shared.


50% Complete

Two Step

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.