Mousavi on the building blocks of defence

Tips from one of the top middle blockers in the world

Iran’s Seyed Mohammad Mousavi Eraghi says vision, perception, quickness, timing, positioning and intuition are the building blocks of good defence.

“The first thing that a middle blocker should have is good vision. A middle blocker should be able to predict the opposing side's next move, and have quick legs to adapt. The timing of a jump and hand positioning are also keys to success.

“But the most important thing is that feeling of defence inside you. It is a feeling that you get in your hands every time they touch the ball. Sometimes the ball comes too fast and is uncontrollable, but that feeling in your hands and that drive inside you enable you to stop the ball nonetheless.”

Early years

As a young man in his native town of Dezful, Mousavi found a way to utilise his height to his advantage.

“I chose volleyball because I was so tall that I had to sit in the back row in class, and besides that I come from a volleyball family and I played with my family as a child.”

Seyed Mousavi began training at school in the third grade. In 1998, he was part of the Khuzestan mini volleyball team in Ramsar.

He then started playing for the Ahvaz club before attracting the attention of an opposing team’s coach. He signed for three years with Peykan and later was invited to join the youth national team.

In his first year with the Iranian youth national team, Mousavi won a silver medal at the 2004 Asian U21 Volleyball Championship. He then won consecutive gold medals at the Asian U19 and U21 Championships in 2005 and 2006, before claiming bronze at the 2007 FIVB Volleyball U21 World Championship.

Playing for Iran

His exceptional talent meant Mousavi was promoted to the senior team in 2008 and he immediately helped his new teammates to an Asian Cup title. Since then he has earned multiple medals at regional and continental tournaments. He also made a significant contribution to Iran’s first ever appearance in the FIVB Volleyball World League in 2013, which started their consistent appearances at world competitions, including the FIVB Volleyball World Championships and the Olympic Games.

“Gaining my very first FIVB medal for Iran at the FIVB Volleyball World Grand Champions Cup in Japan is my biggest accomplishment in the last decade.

“I think the most memorable moment for the Iranian people is our first appearance at the FIVB World League in 2013, when we lost to Russia in the first week but beat hosts Italy in front of their home crowd for the first time in history. That was so memorable for me as well.”

Mousavi has a knack for defending at the net and is regarded as one of the best middle blockers in the last decade. Since winning his lone Best Spiker award in 2005, he has won countless honours as a defensive player.

“In the last 10 years, I have learnt to fight until the last moment and put 100 per cent of my energy into a match. In sports, there are many difficulties and uncertainties. Sometimes you win unexpectedly and sometimes you lose and wonder in disbelief. In every match you play, you have to learn how to fight and always visualise achieving your goals.”

On playing alongside Saied Marouf

Even though his focus is on defence, Mousavi also produces many points from the middle, combining with setter and national teammate Saeid Marouf. The 33-year-old middle blocker only has good words to say about his captain.

Saeid Marouf sets up Seyed Mousavi for an attack

“Saeid Marouf is one of the most prominent players in the history of Iranian volleyball, and he is also well-known around the world. One of his most distinguishing characteristics is his intelligence. He is so smart, not only in volleyball but also in life. And he has devoted his life to volleyball.

“The key to his success is his desire to win. He knows the meaning of the word ‘will’ very well and has shown the world that ‘where there is a will, there’s a way’.”

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