Volleyball is a fun and energetic sport that requires athleticism, finesse, and technical skills. Learning proper technique and building skills from the ground up is crucial for new players. This in-depth guide covers the basics of volleyball – from serving and passing to setting, hitting, and more. Whether you’re a complete beginner or looking to sharpen your fundamentals, use these tips to improve your all-around volleyball game.

Serving in Volleyball

The serve initiates each volley. Mastering a variety of serves is key to maximizing scoring opportunities.

Underhand Serve

The most basic serve, ideal for beginners learning proper technique. Toss the ball out in front, strike it with an open palm, and aim for targets. Focus on directional control.

Overhand Serve

A topspin serve that travels faster and farther. Toss the ball above your hitting shoulder. Contact it with an open-palm strike and snap your wrist for spin. Aim cross-court for difficulty.

Jump Serve

An aggressive serve where you jump and strike the ball at maximum height. Generates power but requires timing and practice to land in-bounds. Toss the ball high and time your approach. Swing fast and flat through the ball.

Float Serve

A serve without spin that moves unpredictably. Toss the ball forward and strike it with a rigid, flat palm for no spin. Aim for the sideline seams to blur direction. Great for catching opponents off guard.

Passing in Volleyball

Passing is the first contact after a serve receive. Good passing allows hitters to attack.

Bump Pass

The forearm pass. Extend arms together and join hands in a platform. Maintain rigid platform and absorb the ball’s force by extending legs. Aim above forehead to the target.

Overhead Pass

Effective for passes off the net. Place thumbs together overhead and catch the ball with straightened hands and arms. Absorb impact with legs and aim to target.

Emergency Pass

For last-second reaction. Get low and push your arms together. Angle forearms to bump the ball up where you need it. Keep thumbs locked and arms straight through contact.

Setting in Volleyball

Setting involves positioning the ball high for hitters. Accurate sets require coordination and touch.

Overhead Set

The classic set. Hands cupped together, thumbs angled back. Extend arms fully and catch ball above forehead. Flex wrists back on contact, snapping ball up near the antenna.

Back Set

Setting behind your head to varying heights. Hands rotate backwards on contact. Allows advanced play combinations. Communicate heights clearly to hitters.

Dump Set

A crafty, deceiving set. Fake a set in front then gently redirect the ball over the net. Disguise your intentions and catch defenders off guard.

Hitting/Attacking in Volleyball

Hitting involves jumping and striking the ball over the net down into the opponents’ court. Mastering varied attacks keeps defenses guessing.

Straight Attack

The standard attack. Time your approach, jump off two feet and strike the ball squarely with an open palm. Contact slightly behind the ball’s center and aim cross-court.

Cut Shot

A sharp cross-court attack. Approch rapidly and jump towards the sideline. At peak height, square shoulders and snap hand sharply cross-court. Aim for the deep corner.

Roll Shot

A softer finesse tip. Approach upright, jump late, and caress the ball softly over the block. Disrupt timing and aim for open spaces.

Back Row Attack

When hitters attack from the back row. Time your approach and jump slightly early. Strike the ball at the peak of your jump, snapping hard cross-court.

Blocking in Volleyball

Blocking is a key defensive skill, using proper positioning and timing to stop spikes.

Solo Block

When one player contests a hitter. Penetrate over the net, hands shaped in a “W”. Time the jump to match the hitter and extend arms fully to deflect the attack.

Group Block

Multiple players blocking in unison. Approach and jump together, arms straight up and hands sealed. Use positioning and timing to cover maximum court space.

Seal the Block

Finish the block. Avoid swinging arms on impact. Keep hands pinned together and hold position a moment to prevent the ball spraying off the block.

Soft Block

Slow the ball’s speed with an angled platform. Absorb the ball’s force by sinking arms slightly, aiming to deflect it upward. Allows defenders time to transition.

Defensive Positioning

Proper positioning is crucial for digging up spikes and transitions.

Base Positions

Starting positions when opponent is serving. Establish court coverage through spacing, usually 2 front row, 3 back row. On serve, prepare your angle to pass.

Reading the Hitter

Analyze hitter’s strengths and tendencies. Position yourself to take away their best attacks. Be light on feet and ready to adjust.

Dig Transition

After a dig, quickly get into position to cover the next attack. Establish inside-out coverage between front and back rows. Communicate roles with teammates.

Defensive Specialist

A designated back row defender. Trained specifically in digging and passing. Plays in rotation to provide a strong defensive presence.

Volleyball Rotations

Rotating positions is a unique element of volleyball strategy.

Rotation Order

Players rotate clockwise after earning the right to serve. The typical starting order is 2 in front row, 3 in back row. Maintain proper server order and positioning.

Role Switching

As players rotate, so do their responsibilities. Front row players become hitters. Back row players focus on defending and passing. Master all roles.

Serving Specialist

A strong jumper server who starts games. Subbed out once their serves are done to maintain strengths on-court.


The defensive specialist. A contrasting jersey allows unlimited back-row substitutions to provide superior digging. Does not serve or attack.

Frequently Asked Volleyball Basics Questions

Here are some common beginner questions about fundamental volleyball skills:

What are the basic positions in volleyball?

The six basic positions are outside hitter, middle blocker, opposite hitter, setter, libero, and defensive specialist. All are crucial to a complete team.

What are the rules for player rotation in volleyball?

Players must rotate clockwise one position after they serve. This ensures all players spend time in the front and back rows for full court coverage.

What are volleyball digs and how do you perform them?

Digs are passes of hard-hit spikes using bump passes and emergency platforms. Good form absorbs the spike power and aims the pass accurately to the setter.

Why is the libero player important in volleyball?

The libero is a defensive specialist focused on digs and passes. Their contrasting jersey allows unlimited back row subs for superior passing and defense.

What are some basic offensive plays in volleyball?

Common plays include quick sets to middle, shooter sets to the pins, slides behind the setter, and tandem attacks with two hitters in sync.

How many hits does each team get before the ball goes over the net?

Each team is allowed a maximum of three hits before returning the ball. You cannot hit the ball twice in a row (except for blocks).

What are important skills for setters in volleyball?

Setting requires coordination, balance, fast reaction time, and feather-soft hands. Sets must go exactly where hitters need them at the right height.

How do you practice good serving form in volleyball?

Focus on consistent toss placement, smooth approach timing, and strong palm or fist contact through the ball’s center. Aim for targets in the back corners.

What are some keys to effective volleyball blocking?

Essentials are quick lateral movement, penetrating the net over the plane, and timing your jump to meet the spike at maximum height with sealed hands.

What are some common unforced errors in volleyball?

Examples are missed serves, passed balls landing out of bounds, miscommunication between teammates, and mistakes like carries, double hits, and net touches.


Mastering fundamental volleyball skills like serving, passing, setting, hitting, blocking, and defensive positioning provides a solid foundation for new players. With consistent practice, you’ll gain confidence, consistency, and the abilities to contribute in any position on the court. Keep refining the basics, and you’ll be dominating the volleyball court in no time!


Categories: Volleyball


  • Tom Eddy

    Tom Eddy is the founder and CEO of Poll Position, a leading sports news and opinion website. Eddy founded Poll Position driven by a vision of creating an innovative digital media brand focused exclusively on sports journalism. Under Eddy's leadership, Poll Position has grown from a solo blog into one of the most visited online destinations for sports coverage.


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