LEARN THE TERMSWe compiled the best information avaliable and created the most thorough volleyball terms list on the internet.
ACE - A serve that is not passable and results immediately in a point.
ANTENNA - The vertical rods (normally white and red) mounted near the edges of the net. The antennas are mounted directly above the sidelines and are not-in-play. Antennas are not usually used on outdoor nets.
APPROACH - Fast stride toward the net by a spiker before he jumps in the air.
ASSIST - Passing or setting the ball to a teammate who attacks the ball for a kill. This stat is normally only logged for high school, college, and National/Olympic team play.
ATTACK - The offensive action of hitting the ball. The attempt by one team to terminate the play by hitting the ball to the floor on the opponent's side.
ATTACK BLOCK - Receiving players' aggressive attempt to block a spiked ball before it crosses the net.
ATTACK ERROR - An unsuccessful attack which does one of the following: 1) the ball lands out of bounds, 2) the ball goes into the net and terminates play or goes into the net on the third hit, 3)the ball is blocked by the opposition for a point or sideout, 4) the attacker is called for a center line violation, or 5) the attacker is called for illegal contact (lift, double hit...) on the attack.
ATTACKER - Also "hitter" or "spiker." A player who attempts to hit a ball offensively with the purpose of terminating play in his or her team's favor.
ATTACK LINE - A line 3m from the net that separates the front row players from the back row players. Commonly referred to as the "10-foot line."
BACKCOURT - The area from the endline to the attack line.
BACK SET - A set delivered behind the setter’s back, which is subsequently hit by an attacker.
BACK ROW ATTACK – When a back row player attacks the ball by jumping from behind the 3m line before hitting the ball. If the back row player steps on or past the 3m line during take-off, the attack is illegal.
BEACH DIG - An open hand receive of the ball, also called a "Deep Dish"
BLOCK - A defensive play by one or more players meant to deflect a spiked ball back to the hitter’s court. It may be a combination of one, two or three players jumping in front of the opposing spiker and contacting the spiked ball with the hands.
BUMP – a common term for forearm passing.
BALL HANDLING ERROR - Any time the official calls a double hit, a thrown ball or a lift (except on a serve reception or attack). For our purposes, this category also includes any blocking errors (when an official calls a blocker for a violation such as going into the net, centerline violation, reaching over the net, etc.).
BUMP PASS - The use of joined forearms to pass or set a ball in an underhand manner.
CAMPFIRE - A ball that falls to the floor in an area that's surrounded by two, three, four or more players. At the instant after the ball hits the floor, it appears as if the players are encircling and staring at a campfire.
CENTER LINE - The boundary that runs directly under the net and divides the court into two equal halves.
CLOSING THE BLOCK - The responsibility of the assisting blocker(s) to join the primary blocker and create an impenetrable block in which a ball cannot fit between the two individual blockers.
CROSS COURT SHOT - An individual attack directed at an angle from one end of the offensive team's side of the net to the opposite sideline of the defensive team's court.
CUT SHOT - A spike from the hitter's strong side that travels at a sharp angle across the net.
DECOY - An offensive play meant to disguise the spiker who will receive the set.
DEEP SET - Set to be hit away from the net to confuse or disrupt the timing of the blockers.
DIG - Passing a spiked or rapidly hit ball. Slang for the art of passing an attacked ball close to the floor.
DINK - A legal push of the ball around or over blockers.
DOMED - When a hitter attacks the ball above the net, bouncing it between the blockers arms off their head/forehead area into the air.
DOUBLE BLOCK - Two players working in unison to deflect an attacked ball at the net back to the hitter’s side.
DOUBLE HIT - Successive hits or contacts by the same player. (Illegal)
DOUBLE QUICK - Two hitters approaching the setter for a quick inside hit.
DOUBLES - A game with two players on each side, most commonly played on a sand court.
DONUT - (also called Campfire) The small round area of the court near the middle of the 3 meter line which is often the target of soft hits or dumps.
DOWN BALL - A ball the blockers elect not to attempt to block because it has been set too far from the net or the hitter is not under control. A "Down Ball" is hit overhand and driven over the net with topspin while the player remains standing. "Down Ball," is usually called aloud by the defense when it becomes apparent the attacker has no chance of hitting a powerful spike.
DUMP - A soft hit usually executed by a front row setter to catch the defense off guard; many times executed with the left hand, sometimes with the right, aimed at the donut or area 4 on the court.
FACIAL - When a hitter attacks the ball over the net and hits one of the opposing players in the face.
FIVE-ONE – A 6-player offensive system that uses five hitters and one setter.
FIVE SET – A back set to the right front hitter.
FLARE – Inside-out path of an outside spiker who hid behind a quick hitter.
FLOATER - A serve which does not spin or rotate and therefore moves in an erratic path. This is similar to a "knuckle ball" pitch in baseball.
FOREARM PASS - Join your arms from the elbows to the wrists and strike the ball with the fleshy part of your forearms in an underhand motion.
FOUL - A violation of the rules.
FOUR SET - A set 1' from the sideline, and 1’ to 2' above the net.
FOUR-TWO - A 6-player offensive system using four hitters and two setters.
FREE BALL - A ball that will be returned by a pass rather than a spike. This is usually called aloud by the defense instructing players to move into serve receive positions.
GOOFY FOOTER - Originated as a skateboarding term; an attacker whose last step in the approach is the foot on the same side as their hitting arm; right hander takes their last step with their right foot, left hander with their left foot.
HELD BALL - A ball that comes to rest during contact resulting in a foul.
HIT - To jump and strike the ball with an overhand, forceful shot.
HITTER - Also "spiker" or "attacker"
HITTING PERCENTAGE - kills vs. attempts
INSIDE SHOOT - A playset or a 33.
ISOLATION PLAY - Designed to isolate the attacker on a specific defender, normally to exploit a weakness or give a hitter a chance to hit against a single block.
JOUST – When 2 opposing players are simultaneously attempting to play a ball above the net.
JUMP SERVE - A serve that is started by the server tossing the ball into the air and jumping into and hitting the ball in its downward motion.
JUNGLE BALL - Any volleyball game with people who don't really know how to play volleyball. A common euphemism for this type of game is "Picnic Volleyball."
KEY - To predict a team's next play by observation of patterns or habits.
KILL - An attack that results in an immediate point or side out.
LINE - The marks that serve as boundaries of a court.
LINE SHOT - A ball spiked down an opponent's sideline, closest to the hitter and outside the block.
MIDDLE-BACK - A defensive system that uses the middle back player to cover deep spikes.
MIDDLE-UP - A defensive system that uses the middle back player to cover dinks or short shots.
MINTONETTE - The original name of the game of volleyball, created by William Morgan.
MULTIPLE OFFENSE - A system of play using different types of sets other than just normal outside sets.
OFFSIDE BLOCK - Player at the net, which is on the side away from the opponent's attack.
OFFSIDE HITTER - a right side attacker; also refers to a player hitting on the unnatural side - right handers hitting from the right, left handers hitting from the left.
OFF-SPEED HIT - Any ball spiked with less than maximum force but with spin.
ONE - (also called QUICK) A type of middle hit when the middle jumps before the setter sets, with the ball being set directly to the middle's hand.
OUTSIDE HITTER – a left-front or right-front attacker normally taking an approach which starts from outside the court
OVERHAND PASS - A pass executed with both hands open, controlled by the fingers and thumbs, played just above the forehead.
OVERHAND SERVE - Serving the ball and striking it with the hand above the shoulder.
OVERLAP – refers to the positions of the players in the rotation prior to the contact of the ball when serving.
PANCAKE - A one-handed defensive technique where the hand is extended and the palm is slid along the floor as the player dives or extension rolls, and timed so that the ball bounces off the back of the hand.
PASS – see "Forearm Pass"
PENETRATION – The act of reaching across and breaking the plane of the net during blocking.
POINT OF SERVICE - A serve that results in a point (an ace by NCAA standards) as the serve is not returnable due to a bad pass by the receiver, this number includes aces.
POWER ALLEY - A cross-court hit traveling away from the spiker to the farthest point of the court.
POWER TIP – A ball that is pushed or directed with force by an attacking team.
POWER VOLLEYBALL - A competitive style of volleyball started by the Japanese.
QUICK SET – a set (usually 2’ above the net) in which the hitter is approaching the setter, and may even be in the air, before the setter delivers the ball. This type of set requires precise timing between the setter and hitter.
READY POSITION - The flexed, yet comfortable, posture a player assumes before moving to contact the ball.
RECEPTION ERROR - A serve that a player should have been able to return, but results in an ace (and only in the case of an ace). If it is a "husband/wife" play (where the ball splits the two receivers), the receiving team is given the reception error instead of an individual.
RED CARD – a severe penalty in which an official displays a red card. The result of a red card may be a player is disqualified, the team loses the serve, or the team loses a point. A red card may be given with or without a prior yellow card as a warning; it is up to the official’s discretion.
ROLL - When a player digs a ball below their knees, dives to the floor, and uses a fancy maneuver to get up. Some types of rolls are barrel and shoulder.
ROLL SHOT - An attacker hits the set softly putting extreme topspin on the ball so that it will clear the block and drop quickly and directly over the block.
ROOF - A ball that when spiked is blocked by a defensive player such that the ball deflects straight to the floor on the attacker’s side.
ROTATION - The clockwise movement of players around the court and through the serving position following a side out.
SECOND - A term used by players on the defense to warn their teammates that there is tandem and not to block the first player but the second.
SERVE - One of the six basic skills; used to put the ball into play. It is the only skill controlled exclusively by one player.
SERVER - The player who puts the ball into play.
SERVICE ERROR - An unsuccessful serve in which one or more of the following occurs: 1) the ball hits the net or fails to clear the net, 2) the ball lands out of bounds, or 3) the server commits a foot fault.
SERVICE WINNER - A point the serving team scores when this player has served the ball. The point can be an immediate (in the case of an ace) or delayed (a kill or opponent attack error after a long rally). Therefore, the sum of the team's service winners equals their score.
SET - The tactical skill in which a ball is directed to a point where a player can spike it into the opponent's court.
SETTER – the player who has the 2nd of 3 contacts of the ball who "sets" the ball with an "Overhand Pass" for a teammate to hit. The setter normally runs the offense.
SHANK - When the backrow player passes a serve that does not go to the setter and that usually flys off into another court. The other team cannot return it.
SHORT - When the serving team serves a ball that appears as though it will land inside or near the 3 metre line.
SHUTOUT - (also called BAGEL/GOOSE-EGG) When a team wins a game without allowing the opposite team to score any points. Much more rare since rally scoring has been adopted for most games, but the term is still used by players who played under side-out scoring.
SIDE OUT - Occurs when the receiving team successfully puts the ball away against the serving team, or when the serving team commits an unforced error, and the receiving team thus gains the right to serve.
SIX PACK – Occurs when a blocker gets hit in the head or face by a spiked ball.
SIX-TWO – A 6-player offense using 2 setters opposite one another in the rotation. Setter 1 becomes a hitter upon rotating into the front row as setter 2 rotates into the back row and becomes the setter.
SKY BALL - A unique underhand serve in which the ball is shot unusually high into the air above the oppossing team's court in the attempt to confuse the receiver.
SPIKE - Also hit or attack. A ball contacted with force by a player on the offensive team who intends to terminate the ball on the opponent's floor or off the opponent's blocker.
STRONG SIDE - When a right-handed hitter is hitting from the left-front position or when a left-handed hitter is hitting from the right-front position.
STUFF - A ball that is deflected back to the attacking team's floor by the opponent's blockers. A slang term for "block."
SWITCH - A term used by the defensive players to signify switching the man you were 'guarding' or blocking. This is used usually when the offensive team uses complicated plays that forces the defensive team to adjust.
TIP - A softer or off-speed finesse attack, usually committed with more of the fingers and fingertips than the whole hand as used in an attack.
TOOL - An attack which is deflected off an opponent (usually during a block) and is unplayable resulting in a point and/or side out for the attacking team.
TURNING IN – the act of an outside blocker turning his/her body into the court so as to ensure the blocked ball is deflected into the court and lands in-bounds.
UNDERHAND SERVE – a serve in which the ball is given a slight under-hand toss from about waist high and then struck with the opposite closed fist in an "underhand pitching" motion.
WEAK SIDE – When a right-handed player is hitting from right-front position or when a left-handed player is hitting from the left-front position.
WIPE – when a hitter pushes the ball off of the opposing block so it lands out of bounds
YELLOW CARD – a warning from an official indicated by the display of a yellow card. Any player or coach who receives two yellow cards in a match is disqualified. A single yellow card does not result in loss of point or serve.