The middle blocker in volleyball: A systematic review


  • Antonio Millán-Sánchez University of Granada, Spain
  • Juan Carlos Morante Rábago University of León, Spain
  • Aurelio Ureña Espa University of Granada, Spain



Team sports, Playing position, Player role, Player function


The objectives of this systematic review were to verify the existing scientific literature published in electronic databases about middle players in volleyball, and to describe a profile middle players should fulfill in order to achieve the highest possible level. The PRISMA protocol was followed. A search of the literature was carried out in electronic databases (ISI Web of Science™, Scopus and SPORTDiscus). Of the 1266 initial results, 41 articles were selected, comprised between 2003 and 2016. The main topics studied about middle blockers are: match analysis, technique, physical effort, muscle strength, injuries, body measures and mental skills. Overall, middle blockers tend to be the tallest and heaviest players with an ectomorph somatotype, and present the largest reach when jumping. Blocking and attacking (i.e. first tempo attack) are their main functions, thus they should dominate them. They present a higher risk of injury, particularly in their knees and fingers. Mentally, they seem to show less toughness and resiliency than other playing positions.


Spanish Education, Science and Sport Ministry


Download data is not yet available.


Aagaard, P., Simonsen, E. B., Magnusson, S. P., Larsson, B., & Dyhre-Poulsen, P. (1998). A new concept for isokinetic hamstring: quadriceps muscle strength ratio. Am J Sport Med, 26(2), 231-237.

Afonso, J., Esteves, F., Araujo, R., Thomas, L., & Mesquita, I. (2012). Tactical determinants of setting zone in elite men's volleyball. J Sport Sci Med, 11(1), 64-70.

Afonso, J., Mesquita, I., Marcelino, R., & Da Silva, J. A. (2010). Analysis of the setter's tactical action in high-performance women's volleyball. Kinesiology, 42(1), 82-89.

Agostini, V., Chiaramello, E., Canavese, L., Bredariol, C., & Knaflitz, M. (2013). Postural sway in volleyball players. Hum Movement Sci, 32(3), 445-456.

Araújo, R., Castro, J., Marcelino, R., & Mesquita, I. (2010). Relationship between the Opponent Block and the Hitter in Elite Male Volleyball. Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports, 6(4), 1216-1216.

Asterios, P., Kostantinos, C., Athanasios, M., & Dimitrios, K. (2009). Comparison of technical skills effectiveness of men's National Volleyball teams. Int J Perf Anal Spor, 9(1), 1-7.

Augustsson, S. R., Augustsson, J., Thomee, R., & Svantesson, U. (2006). Injuries and preventive actions in elite Swedish volleyball. Scand J Med Sci Spor, 16(6), 433-440.

Bahr, M. A., & Bahr, R. (2014). Jump frequency may contribute to risk of jumper's knee: a study of interindividual and sex differences in a total of 11 943 jumps video recorded during training and matches in young elite volleyball players. Brit J Sport Med, 48(17), 1322-1326.

Beneka, A., Malliou, P., Gioftsidou, A., Tsigganos, G., Zetou, H., & Godolias, G. (2009). Injury incidence rate, severity and diagnosis in male volleyball players. Sport Sciences for Health, 5(3), 93-99.

Beneka, A., Malliou, P., Tsigganos, G., Gioftsidou, A., Michalopoulou, M., Germanou, E., & Godolias, G. (2007). A prospective study of injury incidence among elite and local division volleyball players in Greece. J Back Musculoskelet, 20(2-3), 115-121.

Beniscelli, V., & Torregrosa, M. (2010). Componentes del esfuerzo percibido en fútbol de iniciación. Cuadernos de psicología del deporte, 10(1), 7-21.

Bere, T., Kruczynski, J., Veintimilla, N., Hamu, Y., & Bahr, R. (2015). Injury risk is low among world-class volleyball players: 4-year data from the FIVB Injury Surveillance System. Brit J Sport Med, 49(17), 1132-U1161.

Bradley, P. S., Sheldon, W., Wooster, B., Olsen, P., Boanas, P., & Krustrup, P. (2009). High-intensity running in English FA Premier League soccer matches. J Sport Sci, 27(2), 159-168.

Castro, J., Souza, A., & Mesquita, I. (2011). Attack efficacy in volleyball:Elite male teams. Percept Motor Skill, 113(2), 395-408.

Ciccarone, G., Croisier, L., Fontani, G., Martelli, G., Albert, A., Zhang, L., & Cloes, M. (2008). Comparison between player specialization, anthropometric characteristics and jumping ability in top-level volleyball players. Med Sport, 61(1), 29-43.

Cies̈la, E., Dutkiewicz, R., Mgłosiek, M., Nowak-Starz, G., Markowska, M., Jasiński, P., & Dudek, J. (2015). Sports injuries in Plus League volleyball players. J Sport Med Phys Fit, 55(6), 628-638.

Ciuffarella, A., Russo, L., Masedu, F., Valenti, M., Izzo, R. E., & De Angelis, M. (2013). Notational Analysis of the Volleyball Serve. Timisoara Physical Education & Rehabilitation Journal, 6(11), 29-35.

Costa, G.C.T., Ceccato, J.S., Evangelista, B.F.B., Freire, A.B., de Oliveira, A.S., Milistetd, M., Rodrigues, H.A., & Ugrinowitsch, H. (2016). Tactic determinants of game practiced by middle attacker in men's volleyball. Revista Brasileira de Cineantropometria e Desempenho Humano, 18(3), 371-379.

Duncan, M. J., Woodfield, L., & Al-Nakeeb, Y. (2006). Anthropometric and physiological characteristics of junior elite volleyball players. Brit J Sport Med, 40(7), 649-651.

Fattahi, A., Ameli, M. S., & Sadeghi, H. (2013). Relationship between anthropometric parameters with vertical jump in male elite volleyball players due to game's position. Middle East Journal of Scientific Research, 13(8), 1016-1023. https://10.5829/idosi.mejsr.2013.13.8.3712

Fellingham, G. W., Hinkle, L. J., & Hunter, I. (2013). Importance of attack speed in volleyball. Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports, 9(1), 87-96.

Gonzalez-Silva, J., Dominguez, A. M., Fernandez-Echeverria, C., Rabaz, F. C., & Arroyo, M. P. M. (2016). Analysis of Setting Efficacy in Young Male and Female Volleyball Players. J Hum Kinet, 53(1), 189-200.

González, C., Ureña, A., Llop, F., García, J. M., Martín, A., & Navarro, F. (2005). Physiological characteristics of libero and central volleyball players. Biol Sport, 22(1), 13-27.

González, Y., Sedano, S., Fernández, J., & Díaz, H. (2014). Estudio comparativo de factores antropométricos y de condición física en jugadores jóvenes de voleibol colombiano. [Comparative study on anthropometric factors and physical condition in young Colombian volleyball players]. Revista U.D.C.A Actualidad & Divulgación Científica, 17(1), 53-63.

Gradinaru, S., Gradinaru, S., & Merghes, P. E. (2014). Considerations on the constitutional type of the central hitter in volleyball. Timisoara Physical Education & Rehabilitation Journal, 7(13), 27-31.

Hadzic, V., Sattler, T., Markovic, G., Veselko, M., & Dervisevic, E. (2010). The isokinetic strength profile of quadriceps and hamstrings in elite volleyball players. Isokinet Exerc Sci, 18(1), 31-37. https://10.3233/ies-2010-0365

Hadzic, V., Sattler, T., Veselko, M., Markovic, G., & Dervisevic, E. (2014). Strength Asymmetry of the Shoulders in Elite Volleyball Players. J Athl Training, 49(3), 338-344.

Häyrinen, M., Hoivala, T., & Blomqvist, M. (2004). Differences between winning and losing teams in men's European top-level volleyball. Paper presented at the Proceedings of VI Conference Performance Analysis.

Janssen, I., Steele, J. R., Munro, B. J., & Brown, N. A. T. (2013). Predicting the patellar tendon force generated when landing from a jump. Med Sci Sport Exer, 45(5), 927-934.

Li, J., & Kang, H. (2015). Status quo of the will of Chinese professional volleyball players. Open Cybernetics and Systemics Journal, 9(1), 1189-1194.

Lian, Ø., Refsnes, P. E., Engebretsen, L., & Bahr, R. (2003). Performance characteristics of volleyball players with patellar tendinopathy. Am J Sport Med, 31(3), 408-413.

Lobietti, R., Coleman, S., Pizzichillo, E., & Merni, F. (2010). Landing techniques in volleyball. J Sport Sci, 28(13), 1469-1476.

Lobietti, R., & Merni, F. (2006). Blocking footwork techniques used by male and female volleyball players are different. J Hum Movement Stud, 51(5), 307-320.

Marcelino, R., Afonso, J., Moraes, J. C., & Mesquita, I. (2014). Determinants of attack players in high-level men's volleyball. Kinesiology, 46(2), 234-241.

Marques, M. C., Van Den Tillaar, R., Gabbett, T. J., Reis, V. M., & González-Badillo, J. J. (2009). Physical fitness qualities of professional volleyball players: Determination of positional differences. J Strength Cond Res, 23(4), 1106-1111.

Milavić, B., Jurko, D., & Grgantov, Z. (2013). Relations of Competitive State Anxiety and efficacy of young volleyball players. Collegium Antropol, 37(SUPPL.2), 83-92.

Millan-Sanchez, A., Morante Rabago, J. C., Álvarez Hernandez, M., Femia Marzo, P., & Urena, A. (2015). Participation in terminal actions according to the role of the player and his location on the court in top-level men's volleyball. Int J Perf Anal Spor, 15(2), 608-619.

Moher, D., Liberati, A., Tetzlaff, J., & Altman, D. (2009). Preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses: the PRISMA statement. Plos Med, 6(7), e1000097.

Mostafa, C., & Mansour, S. (2016). Assessing and comparing players positions mental skills of Iran men's national junior Volleyball team. IIOAB Journal, 7, 34-39.

Mroczek, D., Januszkiewicz, A., Kawczyński, A. S., Borysiuk, Z., & Chmura, J. (2014). Analysis of male volleyball players' motor activities during a top level match. J Strength Cond Res, 28(8), 2297-2305.

Notarnicola, A., Fischetti, F., Gallone, D., Moretti, L., Pignataro, P., Tafuri, S., & Moretti, B. (2012). Overload and neovascularization of shoulder tendons in volleyball players. BMC Research Notes, 5.

Palao, J. M., Manzanares, P., & Valadés, D. (2014). Anthropometric, physical, and age differences by the player position and the performance level in volleyball. J Hum Kinet, 44(1), 223-236.

Póvoas, S. (2009). Estudo do Jogo e do Jogador de Andebol de Elite. Dissertaçao de Doutoramento. Universidade do Porto.

Rodríguez-Ruiz, D., Diez-Vega, I., Rodríguez-Matoso, D., Fernandez-Del-Valle, M., Sagastume, R., & Molina, J. J. (2014). Analysis of the response speed of musculature of the knee in professional male and female volleyball players. Biomed Res Int, 2014.

Sánchez-Moreno, J., Afonso, J., Mesquita, I., & Ureña, A. (2016). Dynamics between playing activities and rest time in high-level men's volleyball. Int J Perf Anal Spor, 16(1), 317-331.

Sapena Peiro, M. I., Parra, M., Leon, J., Fradua, L., Benitez, J. M., & Urena, A. (2016). Relationship between middle hitter and setter's position and its influence on the attack zone in elite men's volleyball. Int J Perf Anal Spor, 16(2), 523-538.

Sattler, T., Hadžic, V., Derviševic, E., & Markovic, G. (2015). Vertical jump performance of professional male and female volleyball players: Effects of playing position and competition level. J Strength Cond Res, 29(6), 1486-1493.

Sattler, T., Sekulic, D., Hadzic, V., Uljevic, O., & Dervisevic, E. (2012). Vertical jumping tests in volleyball: Reliability, validity, and playing-position specifics. J Strength Cond Res, 26(6), 1532-1538.

Selinger, A., & Ackermann-Blount, J. (1986). Arie Selinger's power volleyball: St. Martin's Press.

Sheppard, J. M., Gabbett, T. J., & Stanganelli, L. C. R. (2009). An analysis of playing positions in elite men's volleyball: Considerations for competition demands and physiologic characteristics. J Strength Cond Res, 23(6), 1858-1866.

Sterkowicz-Przybycien, K., Sterkowicz, S., & Zak, S. (2014). Sport skill level and gender with relation to age, physical development and special fitness of the participants of Olympic volleyball tournament Beijing 2008. Collegium Antropol, 38(2), 511-516.

Toledo Fonseca, C. L., Fernandes, P. R., & Filho, J. F. (2010). Analysis of anthropometrical profile of Brazilian junior volleyball team. Int J Morphol, 28(4), 1035-1041.

van der Worp, H., van Ark, M., Zwerver, J., & van den Akker-Scheek, I. (2012). Risk factors for patellar tendinopathy in basketball and volleyball players: a cross-sectional study. Scand J Med Sci Spor, 22(6), 783-790.

Vilamitjana, J. J., Soler, D., Barrial, J. M., De Oca, M. M., Rodriguez, F., & Del Grecco, P. (2008). Jumping Profile of Elite Volleyball Male Players by Field Positions during a Competitive Season. Med Sci Sport Exer, 40(5), S383-S383.


Statistics RUA



How to Cite

Millán-Sánchez, A., Morante Rábago, J. C., & Ureña Espa, A. (2019). The middle blocker in volleyball: A systematic review. Journal of Human Sport and Exercise, 14(1), 24–46.



Review Paper

Most read articles by the same author(s)