You are on page 1of 9


VOLLEYBALL TERMINOLOGY 10 Ball or Pipe - A high set around the 10-foot line, intended for a back row hitter. 10-foot line or attack line - A line on the court 10 feet from the net, parallel with the net. Players in the back row cannot attack the ball above the net while in front of this line; however, if a player jumps from behind the line toward the net and hits the ball before landing on the court in front of the line, the attack is legal. ACE - A serve that results directly in a point without further action by players on the serving team. Typically, the ace can be detected due to an inability to touch the served ball or a shanked pass by a player on the receiving team. However, if the servereceiving player passes the ball to another player and that second player can make a play on it, but doesn't, this serve is not considered an ace. ANTENNA - The vertical rods along the outside edge of the net extending 32 inches above the net to indicate out-of-bounds along the sideline. Any ball that touches the antenna is considered out. ASSIST - Passing or setting the ball to a teammate who attacks the ball for a kill. The typical assist is a set, but generally, any ball delivered by one player to a second player to allow that second player to make a kill is an assist. ATTACK - A broad term that can mean many different things. At a high level, this term is used to describe the offensive scheme or pattern with which a team attempts to score a point. At a lower level, this term refers to the attempt by a player to score a point by hitting the ball in some manner. Attack Attempt - The attempt by a player to terminate a play by hitting the ball to the floor on the opponent's side. AVCA - American Volleyball Coaches Association 1227 Lake Plaza Drive, Suite B, Colorado Springs, CO 80906 Voice: (719) 576-7777 Fax: (719) 576-7778 AVP - Association of Volleyball Professionals BACK SET - A set made when the player who is setting the ball has his/her back toward the hitter. Normally the setter back sets but occasionally, a player other than the setter decides to get fancy and back sets to the designated hitter. It looks more difficult than it really is. Many players master back setting at an early age.

BACK ROW ATTACK - Typically, a player who has rotated to the back row jumps behind the 3-meter line to hit the ball. When done by a flashy player who puts some heat on the ball, the play is visually spectacular. However, regardless of whether a player takes off, any play involving a back row player attacking the ball is considered a back row attack. When accomplished by a short defensive specialist, the crowd goes wild with delight. BLOCK - The first line of defense where one or more players successfully terminate a rally or play in their favor by stopping the ball from traveling over the net. Typically, the blocking player(s) jump in front of the opposing hitter at the net to make contact with the ball in such a way that the ball lands inbounds on the opposing hitter's court or hits the opposing hitter before falling out of bounds. See ROOF. Blocking Error - A violation that consists of touching the net, crossing the center line, blocking a set or any other violation which occurs while making a block attempt. BUMP - The use of the forearm to pass or set the ball in an underhand manner. BVA - Beach Volleyball Association CARRY - An illegal maneuver in which a player makes an underhand contact with the ball where the duration of the contact last for more than the maximum amount of time. Needless to say, this is a very subjective call. CENTER LINE - The boundary that runs under the net and divides the court into two equal playing areas. CLOSING THE BLOCK- The responsibility of the assisting blocker(s) to angle their body relative tot he first blocker.

Court Dimensions - 59 feet from end line to end line and 29 feet, 6 inches wide (18m x 9m). Courage - The capacity to meet danger or difficulty with firmness; bravery. Mental or moral strength to resist opposition or hardship CROSS COURT SHOT - An angular shot made from one side of the offensive team's side of the court to the opposite side of the defensive team's side of the court. CUT SHOT - A spike from the hitter's strong side that travels at a sharp angle across the net.

DEFENSIVE SPECIALIST (DS) - The position on a team who is responsible for digging and passing the ball in the back row. These players are normally short and substituted out when they rotate to the front row. As befits their name, these players are not expected to contribute to the team's offensive production. Some of the greatest defensive specialists in the history of the game include Nalani Yamashita (Hawaii) and Jaimi Gregory (Stanford). DIG - The act of successfully receiving a ball. Almost always, the dig refers to the act of recovering an attacked ball close to the court floor. Some of the best diggers in collegiate volleyball include Nalani Yamashita (Hawaii), Stacy Sykora (Texas A&M), Jaimi Gregory (Stanford), and usually, any of Kathy Gregory's UCSB teams. DINK or DUMP - A pinpoint and aggressive push of the ball over the net. 99% of the time, this play is made by the setter. Usually performed by the setter, who delivers the ball into the opponent's court on the second contact. DOUBLE BLOCK - Two players working in unison to intercept a ball at the net. DOUBLE HIT/Contact- Successive hits by the same player. (Illegal) DOUBLES - A game with two players on a side 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. Down-Referee - Secondary referee. He/she stands on the floor at the opposite end of the net as the up-referee. FIVB/IVBF - Federation Internationale de Volleyball / International Volleyball Federation FIVE-ONE (5-1) - An offensive system that uses five hitters and one setter. The setter is usually not a hitter. Most younger teams and players are used to the 6-2 system but the more advanced teams utilize the 5-1 system. The vast majority of the college teams utilize a 5-1 system. FLOATER - A serve with no spin that follows an unpredictable path. Usually, the ball arcs high up at less than full speed and then, defying all laws of physics, drops to the floor with the force of a 10-ton truck. Focus - To concentrate attention or effort.To direct toward a common center or objective.

FOOT FAULT - The illegal act of placing a foot on or inside the end line prior to the serve. Like tennis, the server's foot must always be located behind the end line until the server serves the ball. Forearm Pass - Contacting the ball with the forearms in order to deliver the ball to the setter in an underhanded manner. FOUL - A violation of the rules that was called by a referee. If the referees don't call it, you get away with it. No different from any other sport. FOUR-TWO- An offensive system using four hitters and two setters. The setters set from the front row. FREE BALL - A ball that is delivered over the net to the opposing team in a nonthreatening manner because the ball was hit more like a pass rather than a spike. When this occurs, players on the opposing team normally and collectively yell "free!" while moving backwards away from the net to receive the free ball and set up a transition offensive play. Usually, but not always, the receiving team moves into its serve receive positions. HELD BALL (carry) - A ball that comes to rest for more than the maximum allowable time period during contact resulting in a foul. Again, this is a subjective call. HIT - To offensively strike the ball in an effort to terminate the rally for a sideout or point. The hit can be either an overhand or underhand shot so long as the hit is made to terminate the rally. HITTING PERCENTAGE - A statistical category calculated by subtracting the number of errors from the number of kills and dividing this result by the number of kill attempts. For example, a player who records 7 kills, 2 errors, and 10 kill attempts has a hitting percentage of 0.500 (Hitting Percentage = (kills - errors)/kill attempts). Typically, a setter's performance has a high correlation to a team's hitting percentage. ISOLATION PLAY - A play normally designed to deliver the ball to Michael Jordan to work his "magic" whenever Craig Ehlo of the Cleveland Cavaliers is guarding him. Umm, waitIn volleyball, an isolation play is designed to isolate the attacker on a specific defender due to a perceived advantage. JOUST - The act of simultaneously making contact with the ball by opposing players immediately above the net. Usually, both players use both hands to forcefully "push" the ball over the net and onto the other player's side of the court. The joust normally involves two players of equal heights but sometimes, a short setter is matched against a middle blocker and the result is not as predictable as you think.

JUMP SERVE - One of the most feared serves in all of volleyball when executed consistently, the jump serve involves the server tossing the ball up and making contact with the ball as it falls by jumping up in the air. The resulting served ball usually has more power, arc, and spin than the normal serve. However, it is a risky serve for the serving team as most players cannot execute it perfectly. Some of the best jump servers in college volleyball include Logan Tom (Stanford) and Brittany Hochevar (Long Beach State). KILL - A succesfful attack that terminates a play or rally resulting in an immediate point or side out by the team making the kill. LET SERVE - A legal serve attempt where the ball makes contact with the net while still managing to go over on the serve receiving team's side of the court. LIBERO - A player who can be substituted into a game freely in the back row for defensive purposes, i.e., digging, passing. Required to wear a striking and different color jersey, the libero is prohibited from serving or attacking the ball. LINE SHOT - In contrast to a cross-court shot, a line shot refers to a hit attempt where the ball is directed along an opponent's sideline closest to the hitter and usually outside the block. Line Judge - Officials located at the corners of the court; each linesman is responsible for ruling if the ball is legally in play along the lines for which or she is responsible. MIDDLE BACK - A defensive system that uses the middle back player to cover deep spikes. MIDDLE HITTER/BLOCKER (MH OR MB) - The position on a team who is primarily responsible for blocking. Middle hitters or blockers are usually the tallest players on the team. Because of their proximity to the setter, the middle hitter usually receives most of the quick and lower height sets. Because of the variety of ability levels and heights, setting the middle is considered one of the most difficult sets to make in all of volleyball. However, setting the middle is indispensable to opening up the offense and keeping the opposing defenders on their toes. In practice, middles get yelled at a lot because they tend to get in the way of the setter. Some of the greatest middles in the history of the game include Deitre Collins (Hawaii), Kim Oden (Stanford), Elaina Oden (Pacific), and Danielle Scott (Long Beach State). MIDDLE UP- A defensive system that uses the middle back player to cover dinks or short shots. MINTONETTE - The original name for the sport of volleyball given by founder William Morgan. Missile: A spike or serve that rockets out of bounds.

OFF SPEED SHOTS - Any ball spiked with less than maximum force but with spin. Open Up - An exlamation made by a player telling his teammate in back of him that the ball is his/her. OUTSIDE HITTER (OH) - The position on a team who is normally responsible for attacking the ball on the left side of the team's side of the court. These players usually get the most kills and all the glory. Some of the best outside hitters in the collegiate game include Tara Cross-Battle (Long Beach State), Teee Williams (Hawaii), Natalie Williams (UCLA), and Elsa Stegemann (Pacific). Overlap - A violation called when a team lines up out of rotation on a service attempt. OVERHEAD PASS - A ball-handling skill using both hands simultaneously to contact the ball above the head and direct it to the intended target. PANCAKE DIG - a spectacular dig that should not be tried at home without the supervision of a trained professional, unless you are Kerri Walsh. As the ball falls toward the floor (as gravity dictates), a player literally dives head first toward the ball by stretching at least one arm to place his/her palm on or near the floor and under the ball to prevent the ball from touching the floor. The hand is as flat as a pancake on the floor. Clear enough? PASS - The act of receiving and delivering the ball to the setter. Technically, a pass is made by joining the arms from the elbows to the wrists and making contact with the ball on the forearms in an underhand motion to direct the ball to the setter. The pass is considered the most important fundamental element of volleyball. PIPE - A play which involves the setter delivering the ball high and to the middle of her side of the court so that a back row player (usually an athletic hitter who happened to be in the back row at the time due to the rotation) can leap and strike the ball with maximum force to terminate the play for a point or sideout for the offensive team. This is a special case of a BACK ROW ATTACK, because the location of the set ball and the hitter is somewhere along the middle of the offensive side of the court. POWER ALLEY - A cross court hit traveling away from the spiker to the farthest point of the court. READY POSITION - The flexed, yet comfortable, posture a player assumes before moving to the point of contact. Red Card - A more severe sanction given by the up-referee.

RIGHT-SIDE HITTER (RS) or OPPOSITE (OPP) - The position on a team who is responsible for shutting down the opponent's best left side hitters. Right-side hitters don't record a lot of kills or receive a lot of glory but they are indispensable to the success of the team. In addition to blocking and hitting, the right-side hitter is also considered the second option for setting purposes when the setter cannot set the ball. Some of the greatest right-side hitters in the history of the game include Kerri Walsh (Stanford), Jenny Manz (Florida), and Nancy Meendering (Nebraska). RALLY POINT SCORE (or RPS) - Simply put, every play will result in a point regardless of who served. Rally score has been used in international play for years but the United States high school and collegiate games were played with the conventional sideout scoring system. ROLLSHOT - an offspeed shot where the ball is hit in such a way that it travels at less than full speed and arcs over the blockers' hands, requiring the back row defenders to make a play on the ball. Of course, the term is most famous for being the name of a webzine. ROOF - A colloquial term that is used to describe a successful block attempt. See BLOCK. ROTATION - The collective clockwise movement of players on a team around their side of the court following a side out. Each rotation determines the identity of the server. SCREENING - The illegal act of obstructing the view of the opposing team by preventing them from visually seeing the server with players on the server's team at the time of the serve. Typically, players on the server's team gather together in close proximity to create a "wall" or "screen" so that the opposing team cannot determine how, when, and where the server will serve. The players on the server's team must be separated from each other by at least 1 meter. SERVE - The act by one player to put the ball into play. The serving player is usually identified by the current rotation. When serving, the player must be located in a designated area behind the back line. SETTER (S) - The position on a team who is considered the leader and "quarterback" (to use an overused analogy) who is normally responsible for delivering the ball to one of the other players for an attack attempt. In the past, setters were usually shorter and were not expected to contribute to blocking and the team's offensive production. Recently, the trend is to train athletic taller players so that they can also block and attack the ball when necessary. Some of the greatest setters in the history of the game include Debbie Green (USC, 1976-77), Lisa Sharpley (Stanford, 1994-97), Robyn Ah Mow (Hawaii, 1993-96), and Misty May (Long Beach State, 1995-98).

SIDEOUT - In contrast to the rally point scoring system, the sideout scoring system mandates that the only time a team scores a point is when the play ends in the serving team's favor. Also, the term refers to a situation where a play ends in the serve receiving team's favor so that the serve receiving team now earns the right to serve the next play. SIX-TWO (6-2) - An offensive system that uses six hitters and two setters. Obviously, all six players on the court are considered hitters, including the setters. Most younger teams and players are used to the 6-2 system but the more advanced teams utilize the 5-1 system. One of the more successful and well-known 6-2 systems was Stanford's 1994 and 1995 teams which used Lisa Sharpley and Cary Wendell as the setters. SLIDE -The play involves the setter setting the ball to a hitter who is moving laterally with the net, takes off on one foot, and hits the ball forcefully near the antenna. Although this play was invented by the Asian teams to compete (very successfully) against the taller Russian and other Western teams, it is now a common maneuver and technique in all team's offensive repertoire. STUFF - A colloquial term that is used to describe a successful block attempt. See BLOCK. A ball that is deflected back to the attacking team's floor by the opponent's blockers. Substitution - Allows one player to replace another player already on the court. Each team is allowed 15 substitutions per game. Each player is allowed an unlimited number of entries. Tandem - A combination in which one player attacks immediately behind another. TEN-FOOT LINE (or 3-METER LINE) - The two lines that are parallel to the CENTER LINE. Each line is located approximately 10 feet (or 3 meters) from the center line on both sides of the court. This line specifies the boundary between the front row and the back row on each side of the court. TOOL - Commonly used in the phrase "tool the block" or "tooling the block," this term refers to the act of striking the ball in a savvy manner so that the ball deflects off the defender's hand/arm and fall to the floor for a sideout or point for the offensive team. This play normally occurs near the sidelines by the antenna. UNDERHAND SERVE - Although most players serve overhand for greater power, the underhand serve was successfully employed by the Japanese teams. Arguably, the underhand serve is a more conservative, "safer," and accurate serve than the overhand serve. Up Referee - The main referee. He/she stands up on a stand.

USAV - United States Volleyball (formerly USVBA) USPV - United States Professional Volleyball WIPE - the act of deflecting the ball off the opponent's hand(s) and then out-of-bounds by a "brushing" or "wiping" manner for a point or sideout. The wipe is usually made by an outside hitter near the antenna. Yellow Card - Warning given by the up-referee.