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Parents Guide to Volleyball: Basic Volleyball Terminology

Volleyball beginner terminology

Like all sports, volleyball has some unique terminology that only people in the sport would understand, and as a first-year parent it can be a little intimidating at times. Understanding simple sayings and game terms is a great way to familiarize yourself with the world of volleyball. Here is a quick guide to some of the common words used in volleyball games and practices.

Ace: A serve that is not returned and results in a point.

Assist: Passing or setting the ball to a player who attacks the ball for a point.

Block: A defensive play, where a player deflects a spiked ball back into the opponent’s court by jumping in front of the ball with their hands above the net.

Campfire: A ball that falls on the floor and is surrounded by two or more players. The moment it hits the floor it looks like the players are encircling the ball and starting a campfire.

Cut Shot: An attack with angle, almost parallel to the net.

Dig: Passing a spiked or rapidly hit ball.

Dink: A legal pushing of the ball over the blockers.

Double Hit: When a player makes contact with the ball twice in a row. This is considered an illegal hit.

Floater: A non-spinning serve, it can sometimes have erratic movement during flight.

Footfault: When a player steps over the line while serving, which results in a point for the opposing team.

Jump Serve: A type of serve that is done by tossing the ball into the air, jumping, and hitting the ball when it is in its downward motion.

Joust: When the ball is falling directly on top of the net, two opposing players will jump and attempt to push the ball to the other side.

Kill: A successful hit that results in an immediate point.

Let: When a serve hits the top of the net and rolls onto the other side, resulting in a point.

Line shot: A ball that is spiked right down the opposing sideline

Off-speed hit: A ball that is spiked with less force and has spin.

Power alley: A cross court spike that reaches the furthest end of the court.

Reception error:When a player is unable to return a serve that should have been returned, and it results in an ace.

Roll shot: An offensive play similar to a spike, but a hitter will make contact underneath the ball and move their arm upwards instead of swinging down. This type of shot is meant to go high enough to avoid a block and is typically aimed around 10 feet away from the net.

Pancake: A type of dig that occurs when a player extends his or her hand flat on the floor, and lets the ball bounce off the back of his or her hand.

Service error: An unsuccessful serve that occurs by the ball landing out of bounds, failing to clear the net, or a foot fault from the server.

Shank: A wild and unplayable pass.

Shot: An offensive play in which a ball is set and directed into an open area on the court.

Side out: When the serving team loses the rally causing the other team to serve for the next point.

Spike: When the hitter attacks the ball with a swinging motion. This is in an attempt to get a kill.

Strong side: Left side of the court for right handed hitters.

Tip: A soft and off-speed attack done with the fingertips.

Weak side: Right side of the court.

Study up on some of the terminology, and use them at your child’s next volleyball game! Check out more helpful volleyball tips and join us next summer at a Nike Volleyball Camp!

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