It was once thought that volleyball players landing with their foot in a plantarflexed position (movement at the ankle joint that points the foot downward away from the leg or movement of the toes that curls them down toward the sole according to medical-dictionary.com) was the main cause of ankle injury in volleyball. This has recently been found to be untrue, as the main culprit has been the action of blocking the ball and landing on either an opponent or teammates foot according to a study published in the January 2018 issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
The researchers for the study analyzed 24 injuries in major international volleyball federation matches (14 men and 10 women) to determine the cause of the injuries.
From the videos observed in the study, it was determined that most ankle injuries in volleyball occur during the process of blocking the ball (15 times) as opposed to six while attacking. It was found that during blocking the injury occurred 11 times due to a player landing on an opponent and four times from landing on a teammate. Of the six attacking ankle injuries, four times it was because a back row attacker landed on a front row teammate in the process.
The research stated, “When landing on an opponent under the net, the attacker landed into the opponent’s court in 11 of 12 situations, but without violating the center line rule. Injuries mostly resulted from rapid inversion without any substantial plantarflexion.”
The center line rule is that a player can land on the line but can not completely cross it while involved in a play. Therefore, an out of control attacker who does not stop their attack prior to the line is often to blame for ankle injuries.