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Competitive teams master six basic skills: serve, pass, set, attack, block and dig. Each of these skills comprises a number of specific techniques that have been introduced over the years and are now considered standard practice in high-level volleyball.


Setting up for an overhand serve.

A player making a jump serve.

A player stands behind the inline and serves the ball, in an attempt to drive it into the opponent's court. His or her main objective is to make it land inside the court; it is also desirable to set the ball's direction, speed and acceleration so that it becomes difficult for the receiver to handle it properly. A serve is called an "ace" when the ball lands directly onto the court or travels outside the court after being touched by an opponent. In contemporary volleyball, many types of serves are employed:

Underhand: a serve in which the player strikes the ball below the waist instead of tossing it up and striking it with an overhand Sky ball serve: a specific type of underhand serve occasionally used in beach volleyball, where the ball is hit so high it comes

throwing motion. Underhand serves are considered very easy to receive and are rarely employed in high-level competitions. down almost in a straight line. This serve was invented and employed almost exclusively by the Brazilian team in the early 1980s and is now considered outdated. In Brazil, this serve is called Jornada nas Estrelas (Star Trek). Topspin: an overhand serve where the player tosses the ball high and hits it with a wrist span, giving it topspin which causes it to drop faster than it would otherwise and helps maintain a straight flight path. Topspin serves are generally hit hard and aimed at a specific returner or part of the court. Standing topspin serves are rarely used above the high school level of play. Float: an overhand serve where the ball is hit with no spin so that its path becomes unpredictable, akin to a knuckleball in baseball.

Jump serve: an overhand serve where the ball is first tossed high in the air, then the player makes a timed approach and jumps to

make contact with the ball, hitting it with much pace and topspin. This is the most popular serve amongst college and professional teams. Jump float: an overhand serve where the ball is tossed high enough that the player may jump before hitting it similarly to a standing float serve. The ball is tossed lower than a topspin jump serve, but contact is still made while in the air. This serve is becoming more popular amongst college and professional players because it has a certain unpredictability in its flight pattern.


A woman making a forearm pass or bump.

Also called reception, the pass is the attempt by a team to properly handle the opponent's serve, or any form of attack. Proper handling includes not only preventing the ball from touching the court, but also making it reach the position where the setter is standing quickly and precisely. The skill of passing involves fundamentally two specific techniques: underarm pass, or bump, where the ball touches the inside part of the joined forearms or platform, at waist line; and overhand pass, where it is handled with the fingertips, like a set, above the head. Either are acceptable in professional and beach volleyball, however there are much tighter regulations on the overhand pass in beach volleyball.


Jump set

The set is usually the second contact that a team makes with the ball. The main goal of setting is to put the ball in the air in such a way that it can be driven by an attack into the opponent's court. The setter coordinates the offensive movements of a team, and is the player who ultimately decides which player will actually attack the ball.

As with passing, one may distinguish between an overhand and a bump set. Since the former allows for more control over the speed and direction of the ball, the bump is used only when the ball is so low it cannot be properly handled with fingertips, or in beach volleyball where rules regulating overhand setting are more stringent. In the case of a set, one also speaks of a front or back set, meaning whether the ball is passed in the direction the setter is facing or behind the setter. There is also a jump set that is used when the ball is too close to the net. In this case the setter usually jumps off his or her right foot straight up to avoid going into the net. The setter usually stands about of the way from the left to the right of the net and faces the left (the larger portion of net that he or she can see). Sometimes a setter refrains from raising the ball for a teammate to perform an attack and tries to play it directly onto the opponent's court. This movement is called a "dump".[15] The most common dumps are to 'throw' the ball behind the setter or in front of the setter to zones 2 and 4. More experienced setters toss the ball into the deep corners or spike the ball on the second hit.

The attack, also known as the spike, is usually the third contact a team makes with the ball. The object of attacking is to handle the ball so that it lands on the opponent's court and cannot be defended. A player makes a series of steps (the "approach"), jumps, and swings at the ball. Ideally the contact with the ball is made at the apex of the hitter's jump. At the moment of contact, the hitter's arm is fully extended above his or her head and slightly forward, making the highest possible contact while maintaining the ability to deliver a powerful hit. The hitter uses arm swing, wrist snap, and a rapid forward contraction of the entire body to drive the ball. A 'bounce' is a slang term for a very hard/loud spike that follows an almost straight trajectory steeply downward into the opponent's court and bounces very high into the air. A "kill" is the slang term for an attack that is not returned by the other team thus resulting in a point. Contemporary volleyball comprises a number of attacking techniques:


Backcourt (or backrow)/pipe attack: an attack performed by a back row player. The player must jump from behind the 3-meter line Line and Cross-court Shot: refers to whether the ball flies in a straight trajectory parallel to the side lines, or crosses through the

before making contact with the ball, but may land in front of the 3-meter line. court in an angle. A cross-court shot with a very pronounced angle, resulting in the ball landing near the 3-meter line, is called a cut shot. Dip/Dink/Tip/Cheat/Dump: the player does not try to make a hit, but touches the ball lightly, so that it lands on an area of the Tool/Wipe/Block-abuse: the player does not try to make a hard spike, but hits the ball so that it touches the opponent's block and Off-speed hit: the player does not hit the ball hard, reducing its speed and thus confusing the opponent's defense. Quick hit/"One": an attack (usually by the middle blocker) where the approach and jump begin before the setter contacts the ball. opponent's court that is not being covered by the defense. then bounces off-court.

The set (called a "quick set") is placed only slightly above the net and the ball is struck by the hitter almost immediately after leaving the setter's hands. Quick attacks are often effective because they isolate the middle blocker to be the only blocker on the hit. Slide: a variation of the quick hit that uses a low back set. The middle hitter steps around the setter and hits from behind him or Double quick hit/"Stack"/"Tandem": a variation of quick hit where two hitters, one in front and one behind the setter or both in front

of the setter, jump to perform a quick hit at the same time. It can be used to deceive opposite blockers and free a fourth hitter attacking from backcourt, maybe without block at all.


3 players performing a block

Blocking refers to the actions taken by players standing at the net to stop or alter an opponent's attack. A block that is aimed at completely stopping an attack, thus making the ball remain in the opponent's court, is called offensive. A wellexecuted offensive block is performed by jumping and reaching to penetrate with one's arms and hands over the net and into the opponent's

area. It requires anticipating the direction the ball will go once the attack takes place. It may also require calculating the best foot work to executing the "perfect" block. The jump should be timed so as to intercept the ball's trajectory prior to it crossing over the net. Palms are held deflected downward about 45 60 degrees toward the interior of the opponents court. A "roof" is a spectacular offensive block that redirects the power and speed of the attack straight down to the attacker's floor, as if the attacker hit the ball into the underside of a peaked house roof. By contrast, it is called a defensive, or "soft" block if the goal is to control and deflect the hard-driven ball up so that it slows down and becomes more easy to be defended. A well-executed soft-block is performed by jumping and placing one's hands above the net with no penetration into the opponent's court and with the palms up and fingers pointing backward. Blocking is also classified according to the number of players involved. Thus, one may speak of single (or solo), double, or triple block. Successful blocking does not always result in a "roof" and many times does not even touch the ball. While its obvious that a block was a success when the attacker is roofed, a block that consistently forces the attacker away from his or her 'power' or preferred attack into a more easily controlled shot by the defense is also a highly successful block. At the same time, the block position influences the positions where other defenders place themselves while opponent hitters are spiking.


Woman going for a dig.

Digging is the ability to prevent the ball from touching one's court after a spike or attack, particularly a ball that is nearly touching the ground. In many aspects, this skill is similar to passing, or bumping: overhand dig and bump are also used to distinguish between defensive actions taken with fingertips or with joined arms. It is especially important while digging for players to stay on their toes; several players choose to employ a split step to make sure they're ready to move in any direction. Some specific techniques are more common in digging than in passing. A player may sometimes perform a "dive", i.e., throw his or her body in the air with a forward movement in an attempt to save the ball, and land on his or her chest. When the player also slides his or her hand under a ball that is almost touching the court, this is called a "pancake". The pancake is frequently used in indoor volleyball. Sometimes a player may also be forced to drop his or her body quickly to the floor in order to save the ball. In this situation, the player makes use of a specific rolling technique to minimize the chances of injuries.

General Playing Skills That Should Be Developed 1. Serving. This is what always starts the game and is a necessary skill. There are two basic types of serves. The first is overhand; where the player will throw the ball above their head, then hits it on the way down. The second is the underhand serve, where the server cradles the ball in one hand and swings their opposite arm underneath the ball to hit it. Once the one of these basic serves is mastered, a player can the practice variations of either one of these. 2. Pass or reception. This is usually set up by the setter of the game. It is used in order to receive the ball and set the ball up to the another player on your own team. They will then be able to put the ball to the other side like they want to.

3. Tip. A tip is used as a way to fool the other team into thinking that the ball will go further than in actuality. The player hits the ball lightly, making it just go over the net but not too far into the other team's side so that they can't hit it back. 4. Dig. This is the ability for a player to save the ball from hitting the court after it has been spiked. It usually requires a player to dive underneath the ball and extend his/her arms to make the save. 5. Rebound. This occurs when the ball stays on one side (from a block), making the players "rebound", or take the ball back. Physical Skills That Should Be Developed 1. Quickness. Quickness is frequently mistaken for "being fast". A volleyball player does not have to have all out speed, but having quickness is a big plus. 2. Vertical Jump. All things being equal, a volleyball player that can jump higher than the opposition has a great advantage. Being able to jump up to hit a ball before your opponent does can help to win many points. Developing the physical skills often leads to the further development of the game skills. Improving a player's quickness will help them respond more quickly and let them get to more "saves". A player that can jump higher will be able to tip and spike the ball over the opposition easier. And the development of both sets of skills work together to give the player more confidence in his or her ability to play the game.




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Explore Basic Volleyball Skills with the Experts

Learning about volleyball skills. How to pass? How to serve? How to block? How to dig?

How to develop basic volleyball technical skills further?

This section is for a starting volleyball player to get a clear understanding of basic skills, or for a starting coach to learn how to teach those skills. After explaining the basics, we will go into deeper aspects of each skill and present how to develop skills further.

Volleyball Skills - What Volleyball Players Should Learn First?

Before getting into learning technical volleyball skills, there are some important essentials that need to be addressed and learned first.

1. Volleyball Basic Position. Volleyball Stance. A basic position, a stance in volleyball is a comfortable, good balanced position. A player has a well-balanced volleyball stance when her feet are slightly wider than your shoulders, knees are bent (hips are lowered closer to ground) and body weight is shifted a little bit more on the ball of you feet vs. heels. Volleyball players use the basic stance as they prepare for the serve receive or defense - when they are getting ready to move to the ball. 2. Volleyball Shuffling Shuffling is the basic footwork used in volleyball. Shuffling is the correct way to move under the ball when receiving the serve or defending the offense.

It can be described as a player takes multiple tiny little steps after another. When shuffling a player moves either forward, backward, left or right. The most important thing in shuffling is: feet should not cross-over. Shuffling is crucial when moving to the ball, especially when a player has to do little adjustments in the last moment when the ball approaches.

Learning Volleyball Skills - Volleyball Shuffling

Volleyball Skills - Very Basics of Volleyball Shuffling

Shuffling can be introduced simply by moving different directions (left, right, forward and backward) by shuffling and changing direction rapidly. Focus should be on 1. moving the feet quickly and


not crossing over with your feet.

Volleyball Skills - How to Practice Shuffling?

Integrate Shuffling into the Passing or Defensive Drills After introduction, the best way to practice shuffling is to combine it to volleyball passing or defensive drills. Make players takes few shuffle steps before the pass or defense - just like it happens in the match. Very rarely volleyball players do not have to move before the pass or defense in the match. Volleyball Skills - Shuffling in Volleyball Footwork Drills

A good idea is to integrate footwork drills, including shuffling, into the practice. When practicing shuffling coaches should pay extra attention that players stay low in their basic position (hips closer to ground, knees bend, good balance, weight on the toes). Players get exhausted very quickly if it the position is low and shuffling is done with a good speed. It is important to run relatively short 10-15 second sets and give players little rest between the sets. For example, coach can add 4-6 sets of shuffling in the beginning of practice, and possibly repeating the sets in the middle or end of practice again.

The coach can spread the players all over the court having some distance between players. Then players will move simultaneously around the court according the signs (left, right, backwards or forward) of the coach, changing direction rapidly. The coach can also add a dive into the shuffling exercise. When the signal is heard, the players need to dive to get up as fast as they can to continue shuffling. Volleyball Skills - Other Volleyball Footwork When the team learns other type of footwork, for example a blocking footwork, spike approach footwork or some short bursts of sprints, also those can be added into the mix.

Important Methods in the Volleyball Skills Training

We present few ideas what we have been using in volleyball skills training. Most of these principles can be applied to any player level, from the beginners to pros. The learning process is always similar, no matter how old or experienced the players are. I - Show an Example Show players a clear image of the skill. The coach could demonstrate it by him/herself or to use a player as a model. Alternatives are to show the example by using video or pictures. Repeat it several times. II - Teach Players to Focus 100% and Think What They Do in Practice Make sure the players are fully focused though the drills. They shouldnt just go through the motions, which is a very common i.e. in repetitive volleyball skills training

When players learn to think about the skill (cognitive learning) and keep their mind fully focused on what they are doing - they will learn the skill better when performing it (motor learning).

When players become more aware about the techniques, it draws a clear picture in their mind how the skill should be done. As a result players learn to correct the errors and improve the techniques by themselves. They learn to notice little mistakes what they did when performing the skill. This type of thought process in training gets us into method called visualization. You can read more about visualization in the other sections.

III - Run Game-like Volleyball Drills By game-like drills we mean drills, which mimic the game. As soon as possible For the beginning players the volleyball skills needs to be introduced without the net or even without the ball first. However, the goal is to move to the game-like drills as soon as possible. As much as Possible It is definitely not rocket science that players learn the volleyball skills needed in the match by repeating the skills in the practice. Therefore, run game-like drills as much as possible!

How to Run Game-like Volleyball Drills?

These following set ups are not always possible due to lack of space, amount of players, players skill level, or any other reason - but the coach should always aim to use the following game-like settings.

Passing When practicing passing, the ball should be sent from the other side of the net, just like in the match. Setting When practicing setting, the ball should be served over the net, and passed for the setter.

Also there could be a block in the other side of the net, which the setter is playing against. (If not using the passer, the ball feeder should be feeding different kind of balls for the setter, just like in the match, where the pass is constantly different. Volleyball skills training in which "the serve-pass-set-spike" -sequence is not followed is not the most beneficial one for an experienced team, BUT it could be useful in private lessons or practices which have fewer participants. Or in beginner drills in which players may not have enough ball control to run more complex drills.) Offense When practicing offense, the ball should be served over the net - and passed for the setter before the offense. There should a block and defense for the hitter.

(Secondary option, which is not the most beneficial way is; the ball feeder should be feeding pass-like balls for the setter from the different locations around the court.) Defense

When practicing defense, the ball should be hit over the net. The hitter should hit the ball from the setters set. And passers should pass the ball for the setter. When having that in place, the defender learns to read the spiker, the speed of the set, the setter and the location of the pass. Blocking When practicing volleyball skills in blocking, it is important the blocker gets opportunity to practice "reading".

The blockers need to learn to read the passer, the ball which is passed for the setter, the setter, the ball which is set for the hitter, and the spiker who will hit the ball over the net. Serve, Pass, Set, Spike and Block So, the perfect set up to practice volleyball skills in blocking is having somebody to serve the ball over, pass the ball for the setter and having an approaching hitter to swing the ball. (In some cases when practicing defense or blocking the coach may choose to have the offensive player on the stand. I.e. if players are not skilled enough to swing an accurate ball for the blockers and defenders, it could be needed to have the spiker on the stand to hit the balls. However, it is not the best possible option since the spiker is not approaching, or the ball is not set for the spiker, or the pass is not performed.

Despite the critics toward using stands, still the very best National Teams in the world use them.) IV - Breaking Down the Drills

For beginning volleyball players all the complex volleyball skills needs to be taught by focusing on one piece at the time. For example when teaching the spike approach very few players are able to pick it up correctly as a whole. When teaching the spike spike approach the coach should ask players to focus on the footwork first without even worrying about other parts (yet). The coach focuses solely on the footwork at first.

Then when the footwork has been learned, the coach asks players to focus on connecting the arm usage with the footwork, etc, etc. The same concept can be applied for more experienced players when practicing for example attacking. First, we teach an outside hitter to hit a line swing the line and repeat it one after another. Secondly, we teach outside hitter to swing angle - then to use the block then to swing after the own pass. The list of skills continues on and on. I.e. we can vary the speed of the set (high set, shoot), etc. Why is that? All the volleyball skills are learned through repetition. All the different volleyball skills need different motor skills.

For example right side hitting is different from the left side hitting. If the player is only practicing left side hitting, s/he will never become a skilled right side hitter.

Or if players only practice hitting angle, they wont learn to hit the line. It helps players to learn the volleyball skills effectively when repeating the specific skill over and over again. Does this make players like robots? No, it makes them completely the opposite, very creative players. Each spike differs slightly from the other spikes. Once players learn all those slightly different motor skills, players are able to use them all in the game and become very creative players. They become players who are able to adjust and use different approaches and swings naturally in the game.

They are not forced to one kind of approach or one kind of a swing anymore. On this page we just scratched the surface a little bit. You find much more information and drills examples in other pages.

Next: Learning Technical Volleyball Skills

How to Pass? How to Set? How to Spike? How to Serve?

After basic position and shuffling have been learned players are ready for volleyball drills, which teach the technical volleyball skills - passing and setting to begin with. To read more about the basic volleyball skills, follow the links in the bottom of this page.

Volleyball Mini-games to Improve Volleyball Skills

You can use volleyball mini-games to improve technical volleyball skills. Mini-games are one way to make volleyball skills training more fun and exciting. Read more about Mini-games in "How to Play Volleyball"-section.
Why Developing Skills is Important in Volleyball?

Learning volleyball skills is the single most important thing in volleyball. How to Learn Volleyball Skills Properly? Beginning volleyball players may find volleyball very challenging since volleyball skills could be difficult to learn - harder than in other ball games. Learning basic volleyball skills takes lots of patience and countless repetitions. Players simply need to do tons of repetitions to learn the skills properly, which makes volleyball training challenging also for the coaches. How to Keep Volleyball Skills Training Interesting? There is a challenge for the coaches to keep drills interesting and players motivated - and avoid long monotonous, repeating drills. In the pages we present few ideas how to make skills training and continuous repetitions more fun for the players.

Volleyball Skills Training from Beginners to Pros Often technical skills training is associated with beginning volleyball players, but top level volleyball players also spend lots of practice time to hone technical skills. Often technical drills for top level players are more complex, but you may see them do the very basics also. It is a very common sight to see professional caliber players to sharpen passing skills by passing the ball after another in practice. The same principles of learning - i.e. repetition of a specific skill- apply to beginners as well as more experienced players.

Next: Learning Volleyball Strategies with Game-like Drills

While improving basic volleyball techniques it is also important to start learning about tactical side of volleyball, in other words volleyball strategies.

Game-like drills, which mimic the game closely help players to transfer their skills to the game also give the coach opportunity to teach volleyball strategies for the players. To read more about these games, go to Steps for Playing Volleyball page under How to Play Volleyball -section.

Volleyball Skills Related Pages

Volleyball Passing Skills

Essentials of Volleyball Passing This passing section of basic skills focuses on few the most important aspects of passing. Advanced Volleyball Serve Receive Techniques Going beyond "perfect passing form" and extending your passing range. Overhead Volleyball Passing Learning how to use overhead serve receive. Controversial Volleyball Serve Receive Technique Read about controversial serve receive technique, which is widely used by the best volleyball players in the world. Various Volleyball Passing Techniques Get familiar with various passing techniques. Take a look at pictures.

Volleyball Passing Skills: Shanking Balls in the Game? How To Fix It?
How to Improve Volleyball Skills How to improve volleyball passing skills during the match?

How to Improve Volleyball Passing Skills 2 More volleyball serve receive tips. Passing badly? Tips to start passing better in the match.

Volleyball Spiking Skills

Essentials of Volleyball Spike Explore the volleyball spike section and receive tips to become skilled at hitting volleyball. Includes the most important tips for the volleyball spike. Volleyball Transition Read and check out the videos about volleyball transition. How to transition from a blocker to a hitter? How to transition from a blocker to a defensive player and then to a hitter.

Volleyball Serving Skills

Skills - Essentials of Volleyball Serve The basics of volleyball serve will introduce some ideas to become an efficient server. Discover important serving tips.

Volleyball Digging Skills

Basics of Volleyball Digging Learn the posture in digging. How to dig the ball which is landing on the side? Learning More Volleyball Digging Skills - Hard Driven Spike How to dig hard driven spike? Volleyball Overhead Digging Read about volleyball overhead digging. How to dig with open hands? Volleyball Digging Rolling Diving How to dig, roll and dive? What is a pancake?

Volleyball Blocking Skills

Volleyball Blocking Basics - How to Put the Ball Down? How to stop the hitter? How to put the ball down into the opponent's court? Volleyball Blocking Skills - How to Place the Block? How to place the block? When to jump? Blocking in Volleyball - Read the Hitter How to know which direction the hitter swings? How to read the hitter?

Skills Training
Basic Skills in Volleyball - What is "Volleyball Juggling"? Learn ball control and hand-eye coordination with "Volleyball Juggling" drills.

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