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Blocking | Digging | Passing / Bumping | Serving | Setting | Spiking / Hitting
Overlapping | Rotation | Offense | Defense | Switching to Position
| Mental Toughness

photo of blocking form

Blocking: Elbows in and fingers spread wide, facing the net near your shoulders. Bend at the knees and jump straight up. Arms with open hands come straight up, fingers spread wide and strong. Remember that you are taking away an area of the court and other players are filling in the holes behind you, so don't move your arms out of the way.

Turn the outside hand slightly inward in order to deflect the ball back into the court. Left side blocker jumps wtih the left hand turned in. right side blocker jumps with the right hand turned in. See Example

The Soft Block is ideal for players who can't jump and reach higher than the top of the net. Arms extend up straight and close to the ears. Hands tilt back slightly. Fingers are wide spread and strong. Be sure to keep the thumbs back for a flat hand or they could catch the ball and jam. The shorter the player, the further off the net they need to jump. Here is an example of a soft block. This player needs to be moved off the net in order to catch the angle of the ball coming down over the net: The Soft Block for Shorter Blockers



Dave Counts Digging

Digging: Arms are strong and elbows are locked straight; fists point downward. Shoulders are high and pulled forward as the chest sinks back away from the fists. Arms don't swing, they stay solid. If you need to redirect the ball, it comes from the torso and the shoulders. For instance, a ball can be directed towards the right if the left shoulder squeezes up toward the neck and the right shoulder drops down; the torso turns to the right to guide the ball.

When digging a low ball, bend at the knees to lower your platform, arms don't swing.

Bonnie Bright Digging

passing the volleyball

Passing: Wait for the ball with a wide stance and bent legs. Arms come together straight and in front of the body. Don't start them low and then come up. Arms are strong and elbows are locked straight; fists point downward. Shoulders are high and pulled forward as the chest sinks back away from the fists. Arms don't swing, they stay solid. Legs make the ball go, but are still slightly bent after the ball leaves.

Troubleshooting Common Passing Errors


serving the volleyball

At right, Robert Hain demonstrates a foot fault. The server is not allowed to step on any part of the line or court before contacting the ball.

Visit USA Volleyball's Official Training and Education site for a full set of volleyball rules.

foot fault

 training setting

Setting: Wait for the ball with legs bent and the right leg slightly in front of the left. Arms are slightly bent as they rotate at the shoulder up to the setting position. Index fingers and thumbs are roughly one inch appart and form a triangle. Fingers are spread wide. Allow every finger to touch the ball as it brings your wrists back slightly (don't let it touch your palms). Press both arms straight up after the ball.

To purchase an excellent setting video, please visit Brian Gimillaro's web site: http://vballvideos.com/store/

spiking the volleyball

approach jump


Expert Tips

Spiking: Notes from a recent talk with Marv Dunphy

The first two steps are small and the third step is a big one. The reason being that you lower your center of gravity with that big step prior to takeoff and it gives your arms time for the back swing. The arms go down and back, together and up. When the arms come up from the back swing the hitting arm already begins to bend as the arms begin to swing forward near the thigh. Once your arm is up and back, you have three segments: 1. Elbow back, to elbow lead 2. Arm coming forward 3.Wrist snap. You want to have a loose arm when you swing. Don't allow your elbow to drop down. There is no time for that.

Jumping Mechanics from Butch May

"If you watch high-jumpers during the approach to the bar and only look at their last 3 or 4 steps the basics for a maximum jump are present. You will see the the position of the arms before the plant foot touches the ground, the bending of the leg and arm positions, the leg extension in unison with the arm thrusts to what I think track high-jump coaches call 'blocking" ( the arms as part of the thrust upward reach a parallel ..... elbows are at shoulder height ). The arms are never muscle tight but rather strong but relaxed. Just a thought ... your adjustments will vary with each kid but the basics are the same."

Four Step Hitting Approach by Bonnie Bright

Step forward with the right foot, then with the left foot. The next step is a very big step with the right foot. The first part of the right foot that hits the ground on this big step is the heel. At this point, you are bent at the waste with your arms straight back and pulled up. Your left foot (the fourth step) closes next to the right. (Feet always face the net in the same direction as the approach. Never turn them sideways.)

Lift with your back as your legs begin to press upward and your arms swing forward and upward to lift yourself off the ground. Allow both arms to continue straight up as the hitting arm bends backward, elbow high, palm facing the ceiling and cocked back with wide fingers see example. Your elbow is high and should never drop down. Lead with your elbow as you straighten the hitting arm, keeping it close to your ear for maximum reach and snap your wrist over the ball with wide open fingers. Head and stomach follow through after the ball and the hitting arm stops high.

To be ready for take-off, it's important to bounce on your toes, loosely while waiting for the set. Wait until you see the set before leaving, then come in fast. Jump behind the ball and keep it in front of your right shoulder.


mental toughness training

Mental Toughness Training

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mental strength academy



Overlapping (a flash click through tutorial)

Switching to Position can be a difficult concept to grasp. Here is a somewhat long YouTube video explaining when to switch: Switch to Position

Volleyball Offense

Running an offense becomes integral to the game once players are able to specialize their talents. You'll want your best setters touching the ball every play. There are several offenses to choose from. You may have heard of a 4-2, a 6-2 and a 5-1. The first number is the number of available hitters who will attack/hit when they are front row. The second number is the number of setters on the court. The information and videos below will help you understand how they work. (Keep in mind that I do not go into the back row attack, or back row players hitting from behind the ten foot line.)

The 4 - 2

The 4-2 has four hitters and two setters. The two setters set from the front row and pass when they are back row. They will not jump and hit in the front row unless another player has to step in and set. There are four hitters on the court. This means that four players on the court are not designated setters. Watch the Video

The 6-2

The 6-2 has six players who will hit when they are in the front row, including the two setters. The two setters will set only when they are back row. This leaves three hitters in the front row at all times. Watch the Video

The 5-1

The 5-1 is like a combination of the 4-2 and the 6-2. There are five hitters and one setter on the court. The setter sets while she is both in the front and the back row. This means that while she is setting from the front row, there are only two available front row attackers/hitters. When she is setting from the back row, there are three available front row hitters/attackers. Watch the Video

Volleyball Defense


Rotation mainly comes into play when playing six man volleyball. The players line up, three in the front row and three in the back. Players rotate one position in a clockwise direction. A team only rotates when their team gains the serve. If your team is already serving and you continue to make points, you do not rotate; the same server continues to serve. If the other team is serving and you win the point, your team will now be serving and your team must rotate one time clockwise.

Rotation and Switching for Opposite the Setter/ Right Side

You're playing right side which is also called opposite if you are not setting.  But, if the setter has to dig or pass the ball, you are the one responsible for stepping in to set that second ball.  Setters always set from the right side of the court and we pass slightly to the right of middle so the setter is on the right.

Rotation is just where you are on the court in your serving order.  So, if you start the game in left front, that is where you currently are in rotation.  You'll notice that the setter is right back when you are left front in rotation.  You will always be opposite her on the court.  Because of that, when you are front row, she is back row and vice versa.

As you already know, we rotate in a clockwise motion around the court each time we side out.  Siding out means gaining the serve when we were not already serving.  If we are already serving, we don't rotate when we win a point.  We just continue serving.  If the other team is serving and we win the point, we are gaining the serve and we need to rotate one time clockwise to our next server.

Now, it's very important that you realize your position on the court (right side/opposite) is different than where you are in rotation.  Your position is right side so you will ALWAYS switch to the right.  If you are front row, you will switch to right front.  If you are back row, you will switch to right back.  You will play out the whole rally in your right side position until the play ends and the ball dies.  Then, you must go back to where you were in rotation before the next serve. 

You only switch when your team sends the ball over the net.  So, if your setter is in right back in rotation and she is serving, you are left front in rotation.  She is about to send the ball over the net, which means you will switch to the right as soon as she contacts the ball.  Play out the whole rally there on the right.  Be ready to hit if anyone else passes the ball.  But, be ready to set if the setter has to pass the ball.

If your team is not serving and you are left front, you will be ready to pass from where you are in rotation (left front).  Your team is not sending the ball over the net with the serve.  So, you will wait to switch until your team sends the ball back over the net to the other team.  Until your team sends the ball over the net to the other team, you will remain in that left front spot and be ready to pass and hit.  Once the ball goes over the net, you quickly switch to the right during the rally and you stay there and play until the ball dies.  Then, it's back to where you are in rotation. 

There is no rotation in doubles.

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