VOLLEYBALL TERMS

Volleyball terms to help you learn the "Lingo" of this great sport!



Volleyball Terms Alphabetically Listed

|a,b|  |c,d,e,f|  |g,h,i| |j,k,l|  |m,n,o,p|  |q,r,s|  |t,u,v|  |w,x,y,z|

Volleyball Terms:  a - b

6-2 -- An offensive system that features four hitters and two setters.  Setters hit when they are in the front row and set when they are in the back row.

ace -- A serve that is not passable and scores an immediate point.

antenna -- The vertical rod at each sideline on the net.  They are 3 feet above the net.  The play ends if the ball hits them or the ball crosses the net outside of them.

approach -- The quick and fast running motion of the attacker.  This is usually three or four steps that get the spiker to the ball to jump and hit.

assist -- Set or pass to a hitter that results in an immediate point.

assist attempt -- A ball that is set or passed to a hitter so she can attack.

attacker -- The hitter or piker.  This is the player who is attempting to terminate play by getting a kill.

attack line -- Also known as the 10-foot line.  The line is 3 meters from the parallel to the net.  A backcourt player must jump from behind the attack line for her attack to be legal.

baby jump serve -- A type of serve in which the server performs a small jump and leaves the floor before contacting the ball.  This serve can have no spin like a float serve, or it can have topspin.

backcourt -- The area of the court behind the attack line in front of the baseline and between the sidelines.

backcourt attacker -- Back-row player who attacks the ball to her opponent's side of the net from behind the attack line.

back-set -- A ball that is set behind the setter opposite the direction she is facing.

ball-handling error (BHE) -- Illegal contact on the ball.  Most common are double hits, throws, and lifts.

baseline -- The back line of the court, which is 30 feet (9 meters) from the net and parallel to the net on both sides of the court.  The baseline is also known as an end line.

block -- A combination of one, two, or three players getting in front of their opponent's spiker and stopping or slowing down the attack with their hands.

block assist -- A block by two or three players that results in a point.

blockers -- Players who are attempting to stop or slow down their opponent's attack.

block solo -- Block of the opponent's attack to the floor for a point by one player.


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Volleyball Terms:  c - f

centerline -- The line that divides the court in half underneath the net.

combination -- A play run by the offensive team in which two or more players run routes in unison.

crosscourt -- An attack directed from a corner of the hitter's side of the net to the opposite sideline of the opponent's court.

crossing pattern -- A play run by the offensive team in which two players cross each other.

crossover step -- Movement pattern used on the court when travelling a distance.  The first step is made with the foot closest to the direction in which the player is moving.

dig -- A defensive technique used when a hitter attacks at the defender with an overhead attack.

dive -- a defensive technique in which the player leaves the floor and extends for a ball to make a defensive save and then catches herself with both hands and slides through on her stomach and thighs.

double block -- Two frontcourt players working together to block an opposing hitter.

double contact -- a ball this is hit twice by the same player.  This only legal on the first contact of the ball.

doubles -- a type of game in which each team has only two players on its side.  This is a very popular game played both indoors and outdoors.

down ball -- An attacked ball from the opponent that is not considered a hard-driven spike or a free ball.

end line -- Also known as the baseline.  This is the back line of the court, which is 30 feet (9 meters) from the net and parallel to the net on both sides of the court.

error -- A mistake by a player that results in a point for the opponent.  This can be a service error, hitting error, ball-handling error, receiving error, or blocking error.

Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) -- The international governing body of volleyball.  FIVB represents all of the international Olympic committees.

float serve -- A serve that moves like a knuckleball with no spin.  Solid contact and no follow-through can cause this.

forearm pass -- A fundamental ball-handling skill in which a player contacts the ball below the waist by using her forearms.

four-step approach -- The basic attack approach pattern.  These are the four steps the attacker uses to get to the ball to jump and hit.  Right-handed hitters step right, left, then right-left.  A left-handed hitter steps left, right, then left-right.  Each step gets bigger and faster as the hitter approaches.

free ball -- A slow, easy ball crossing the net that the team should counterattack very easily.

Volleyball Terms


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Volleyball Terms:  g - h

game -- A part of the match.  Games are played to either 25 points (international, men's collegiate, USAV) or 30 points (women's NCAA), except the deciding game is played to 15 points, and teams must win games by 2 points.  Most matches consist of two out of three or three out of five games.

game plan -- A team's offensive and defensive strategies and tactics against an opponent.

go-to-player -- The person on a team who is the key player and gets the ball in critical situations.

held ball -- An illegal contact that occurs when the ball comes to rest during contact.

hit -- A spike or an attack.  This is an offensive skill that a players uses to put the ball to the floor on the opponent's side of the net.

hitter -- A spiker or attacker.  This is the player who hits the ball.

hitting efficiency -- A stat used to figure out how effective a hitter is.  Calculate hitting efficiency by subtracting errors from kills and then dividing by total attempts.  For example, if an attacker has 15 kills and 3 errors and has taken 35 attempts, her hitting efficiency is 0.343 (15 - 3 = 12 ÷ 35).

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Volleyball Terms:  j - l

joust -- Two opposing players making contact with the ball above the net.  Usually the person who touches the ball second wins the battle.

jump serve -- A serve in which the server jumps and attacks the ball as if she were spiking from behind the baseline.

kill -- A ball that is overhead attacked to the opponent's side of the net and scores a point.

let serve -- A serve that hits the net and still crosses the net to the opposite side.

libero -- A defensive player who wears a different-coloured jersey and is not allowed to set the ball in front of the attack line or jump and attack the ball above the top of the net.  Some rules (women's NCAA) allow the libero to serve, and some do not allow them to serve (USAV).

lift -- An illegal contact caused by holding the ball.

line -- a straight-ahead attack from a sideline.

lineup -- A team's serving order that reflects their starting location on the court.

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Volleyball Terms:  m - p

match -- A series of games that determines the outcome.  Usually volleyball matches are two out of three or three out of five.

mintonette -- The original name of the game created by William Morgan.

multiple attack -- A type of offense in which two or more hitters attack at different places along the net.

multiple block -- More than one player involved in a blocking attempt.

National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) -- The association that administers college and university athletic programs in Divisions I, II, and III.

net -- The equipment used to divide the court.

off-blocker -- Outside blocker not executing the block on the opposite side of the court where the attack is taking place.

off-hand set -- A set delivered from the left side of the right-handed hitter and from the right side of the left-handed hitter.

off-speed attack -- An attack that is slower than a hard-driven spike by design.

on-hand set -- A set delivered from the right side of the right-handed hitter and the left side of the left-handed hitter.

opposite -- The player opposite the setter.  This is also a player who is three positions away from another player in the lineup.

outside hitter -- Position on the court that is usually the left front.

overhand pass -- Ball that is taken with two hands above the head.

overlap -- A foul in which one person is out of position with another player when the ball is served.

overpass -- A ball that is passed across the net usually on the first contact.

overset -- A ball that is set over the net.

pancake -- A defensive technique in which a player flattens the palm of her hand on the floor to save the ball.  The defender is usually on her stomach when executing this skill.

penetration -- Reaching across the net and breaking the plane of the net to block.

pepper -- A warm-up drill in which players pass, set, and hit back and forth to each other.

perimeter -- A type of defense that is played near the boundaries of the court.

pipe -- A backcourt attack that is set in the middle of the net.

platform -- The position of the player's forearms when executing an underhand pass.  The platform should be in V-position with the shoulders, and the fleshy parts of the palms should be pressed together so the thumbs are pointed to the floor.

posture -- Body position while executing a skill.

power leg -- The leg a slide hitter uses to take off.  A right-handed hitter's left leg is her power leg; for a left-handed hitter, the right leg is the power leg.

progression -- A logical sequence of activities used to implement individual fundamentals or team systems.

Volleyball Terms


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Volleyball Terms:  q - s

quick-set -- A fast, low set.

rally -- Continuous play back and forth across the net.

rally scoring -- The type of scoring that results in a point on every serve.

read -- To determine what will happen before it occurs.  This also refers to blockers watching the setter and trying to get clues where she will set the ball before she actually sets it.

ready position -- The correct position a player is in before executing a skill.

receiving error -- An error that results when a passer cannot handle the first ball from the server.  This results in an ace for the server.

repetitions --  Multiple contact and execution of a skill.

right side -- Player who usually plays the right-front position and is opposite the setter.

roll shot -- a ball hit softly over the net with topspin.

rotate -- To move clockwise one rotation in the lineup.

rotational order -- a lineup given to the corer before the game that has the player's location on the court.  Based on the lineup, the scorer also knows the sequence in which players serve.

seam -- The spot between two players.

serve -- The beginning of each rally that takes place anywhere behind the baseline.

server -- The player who puts the ball in play.

service error -- An unsuccessful serve that lands in the net, out of bounds, and not legally on the opponent's half of the court.  A foot fault is also a service error.

set -- A two-handed overhead pass to an attacker.

setter -- The person on the court who should bet every second contact to deliver to a hitter.

shadowing the block -- A term used when an area of the court is taken away by the block where the attacker cannot hit a hard-driven spike.

shank -- A poorly passed ball that cannot be played by another player.

shuffle step -- A movement pattern used on the court to move forward and backward and right to left.

sideline -- The boundary lines on the sides of the court that are 30 feet (9 meters) on each side.

side-out -- Occurs when the receiving team wins the rally.

slide -- An offensive attack approach that the hitter takes off one leg.  This type of approach is usually a first tempo set run behind the setter but also can be run in front of the setter.

soft block -- A blocking technique in which the blocker turns her hands backward to deflect the ball on her side of the net with her palms facing up.

specialize -- Concentration on one position.

spike -- An attack that is hard driven to the opponent's side of the net.

stuff -- a block that results in a point.

substitution -- One player replacing another on the court.

switch -- To change positions on the court.

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Volleyball Terms:  t - v

throw -- An illegal contact caused by changing the directions of the ball.

tip -- A type of attack used by a hitter to place a ball softly with one hand into the opponent's court.  No wrist snap occurs, and the fingers stay strong and firm.

tool -- A type of attack a hitter uses when trying to wipe off the blockers' hands.

topspin -- A type of forward spin on the ball that causes it to drop.  Use topspin on the attack and the serve.

touch -- A player contacting the ball.

transition -- To change from defense to offense or offense to defense.  It also means switching positions with another player.

triple block -- A block with all three frontcourt players.

underhand serve -- a serve in which the server slightly tosses the ball waist high and strikes it with her opposite hand in an underhand motion.

unforced errors -- A player error that is not the direct result of an opponent's play.  A service error is an example.

United States Volleyball Association (USAV) -- The national governing body for volleyball in the United States.

V -- The shape of the shoulders and forarms when a player is executing an underhand pass.

Volleyball Terms


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Volleyball Terms:  w - z

W -- A five-player serve-receive formation that is in the shape of a W.

weak side -- The right-front position of the net for a right-handed hitter and the left-front position for a left-handed hitter.

wipe-off -- A hitting technique in which the attacker wipes of the hands of the blocker by attacking the ball and tooling the blocker's hands.

X -- A crossing pattern in which two attackers cross paths when running their attack routes.

Volleyball Terms



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