Volleyball Terms (A-Z): The Ultimate Glossary

Welcome to the Volleyball Glossary – your ultimate resource for understanding the wide range of terms used in the world of volleyball.

Whether you’re a beginner, a seasoned player, or simply an avid fan of the sport, this comprehensive glossary will help you to understand different terminologies used in volleyball.

Table of Content

A

B

C

D

E

F

G

H

I

J

K

L

M

N

O

P

Q

R

S

T

U

V

W

X

Y

Z

A

Ace:

A serve lands in the opponent’s court untouched, resulting in an immediate point for the serving team. Read More

Attack Line:

The area of the court that is 10 feet wide and runs from the net to the end line. Read More

Antenna:

Vertical rods on the net that indicate the boundary of the playing area for ball contact.


B

Block:

A defensive play is where a player jumps near the net with their arms extended to intercept the opponent’s attacking shot. Read More

Back-row attack:

A back-row attack is an attack that is made by a player who is standing in the back row.

Bump:

A bump is a type of pass that is made with both hands and is used to control the ball and keep it in play. Read More

Back Set:

A back set in volleyball is when the setter sets the ball in the opposite direction of their initial facing, typically moving away from the net.

Block Assist:

A block assist in volleyball occurs when two or more players work together to block an opponent’s attack, resulting in a shared credit for the successful block.

Block Solo:

A block solo in volleyball happens when a single player successfully blocks an opponent’s attack without assistance from teammates.

Ball Handling Error:

A violation occurs when a player touches the ball with two hands or catches it and then throws it.


C

Court:

The designated playing area for volleyball, divided into two halves by the net.

Coverage:

Coverage in volleyball refers to the defensive responsibility of players to be in a position to retrieve or dig a ball that has been hit by the opponent, preventing it from touching the ground.

Centerline:

The boundary that divides the court into two equal halves, running underneath the net.

Cut shot:

A type of attack where the ball is hit diagonally across the court, avoiding the blockers.

Challenge:

A formal request made by a team to review a referee’s decision using video replay.

Cross-Court:

A shot that is hit diagonally from one side of the court to the opposite side, aiming to exploit gaps in the defence and create scoring opportunities.

Cut Shot:

An attacking technique where the hitter changes the direction of the ball mid-flight, aiming to hit it at a sharp angle across the court, often deceiving the blockers and landing the ball in an open area.


D

Dig:

A defensive move in which a player passes a spiked or powerful hit by an opponent. Read More

Dive:

A dive is a defensive play in which a player throws themselves to the ground to save the ball from going out of bounds. Read More

Dump:

A dump is a type of offensive play in which a player intentionally hits the ball into the ground on the opposing team’s side.

Deuce:

A tie score at 20 points or more, requires two consecutive points to win the set.

Double:

When a player touches the ball twice consecutively, resulting in a fault.

Dead Ball:

A situation where play is temporarily halted, usually due to a violation, a timeout, or a stoppage called by the referee. During a dead ball, teams cannot score points, and the ball is typically out of play.

Down Ball:

An offensive play where a player lightly hits or pushes the ball over the net with control, instead of performing a powerful spike.

Defensive Specialist:

A player who specialized in defensive skills, often substituted for back-row passing and digging. Read More


E

Error:

An action or decision that results in a point being awarded to the opposing team, such as a service error, hitting error, or ball-handling error.

Extension:

The act of reaching or stretching one’s arm to make contact with the ball, commonly seen in blocking or spiking.

Expulsion:

A severe penalty where a player is ejected from the game and cannot return.


F

Front-row attack:

A front-row attack is an attack that is made by a player who is standing in the front row.

Foot fault:

A foot fault occurs when a server steps on the line or into the court when serving the ball.

Forearm pass:

A technique where the ball contacts the forearms to control and direct its trajectory.

Free Ball:

A situation where the ball is passed or hit over the net by a team after receiving an easy return from the opponent. Unlike a regular attack, a free ball does not possess much power or aggression.


G

Game point:

The final point needed to win a set or match.

Grounded:

When the ball makes contact with the ground within the boundaries of the court.

Golden set:

A tiebreaker played to determine the winner when the score is tied after a set or match.


H

Hand signals:

Non-verbal cues used by players to communicate with teammates during the game.

Hand setting:

A technique where the ball is directed to a teammate using the fingertips.

Hitting Percentage:

A statistic that measures a player’s effectiveness at hitting the ball.


I

Interference:

When an object or player obstructs the opposing team’s play, resulting in a violation.

Invading:

Crossing the centerline or stepping into the opponent’s court, resulting in a fault.

Illegal attack:

A violation means when a player performs an attack that is against the rules.


J

Joust:

A joust is a situation in which two players from opposing teams are both trying to hit the ball at the same time.

Jump Serve:

A type of serve where the server tosses the ball into the air takes a running approach and leaps into the air to strike the ball forcefully over the net.

Jump Float Serve:

A type of serve where the server jumps and hits the ball with a slight spin to create unpredictability.


K

Kill:

A successful attack by a player that results in an immediate point, typically an unstoppable spike. Read More

Keeper:

A player responsible for receiving and controlling serve receives.

Kneepads:

Protective gear worn on the knees to provide cushioning and prevent injuries during diving or sliding plays.


L

Love:

A term used to indicate a score of zero.

Lift:

A lift is a violation in volleyball that occurs when a player controls the ball with two hands or catches it and then throws it. Read More

Libero:

A specialized defensive player who wears a different coloured jersey and has certain limitations and privileges within the game. Read More

Line Judge:

An official positioned along the sidelines to determine if the ball lands in or out of bounds.

Libero replacement:

A libero replacement is a player who can be substituted into the game for any back-row player.


M

Mintonette:

An early name for volleyball was mintonette, coined by William G. Morgan.

MVA:

Abbreviation for Most Valuable Attacker, an award given to the player with the highest attack efficiency.

MVP:

Abbreviation for Most Valuable Player, an award given to the player who makes the most significant impact on the game.

Middle Blocker:

A defensive player positioned in the centre of the front row, responsible for blocking and attacking. Read More


N

Net serve:

When the serve hits the net and continues to cross over to the opponent’s side, resulting in a valid serve.

Net violation:

A fault that occurs when a player makes contact with the net during play.


O

Overreaching:

A violation that occurs when a player reaches over the net into the opponent’s side of the court.

Off-Speed Shot:

An off-speed shot occurs when the attacker intentionally reduces the power and speed of the spike or attack, aiming to catch the defense off guard with a softer, well-placed shot.

Overhand Serve:

A serve, where the player hit the ball with an extended arm and an overhand motion, typically generates more power and control compared to an underhand serve.

Overhead Pass:

A pass that is made with both hands and is used to control the ball and keep it in play.

Outside Hitter:

An attacking player positioned on the left or right side of the front row. Read More

Opposite Hitter:

An attacking player positioned opposite the setter, typically known for powerful hits from the right side. Read More

Out of bounds:

When the ball lands outside the court boundaries, resulting in a point for the opposing team.

Out of system:

When a team is unable to execute its planned offensive play due to a poor pass or set.


P

Pipe:

A back-row attack performed by a middle blocker from behind the setter.

Post:

A position played by a middle blocker near the net, often involved in blocking and attacking.

Passing:

The act of receiving a served or attacked ball and directing it to the setter for a controlled set. It involves using the forearms or hands to create a clean, accurate pass that allows for effective offensive plays.

Penalty:

The punishment imposed on a player or team for violating the rules often results in a loss of points or rotation. Read More

Pin hitter:

An outside hitter who attacks from the left or right side of the net near the antennas.

Perimeter defence:

Defensive strategy where players guard the boundaries of the court to prevent attacks from outside hitters.

Pancake:

A type of defensive play in which a player dives to the ground and uses their body to block the ball from going over the net.


Q

Quick set:

A fast set close to the net, usually used to surprise the opposing blockers.

Quick attack:

A fast and powerful spike performed by an attacker to catch the defence off guard.

Qualification:

The process of teams or players meeting specific criteria to participate in a tournament or competition.


R

RPI:

Abbreviation for Ratings Percentage Index, a statistical ranking system used in college volleyball.

Rally:

A sequence of continuous exchanges of the ball between teams without it hitting the ground. Read more

Rotation:

Rotation is the process of players moving around the volleyball court after each side out. Read more

Roofing:

A defensive play where a player blocks the opponent’s attack and prevents it from crossing the net.

Rotation Error:

A violation that occurs when a player does not rotate correctly after a side-out.


S

Set:

A tactical overhead pass that positions the ball for an attacker to hit. Read More

Setter:

The player who orchestrates the team’s offence by accurately positioning the ball for attackers to hit. Read More

Spike:

A spike is a powerful offensive hit that is made by a player who jumps into the air and hits the ball with force over the net. Read More

Slide:

A type of defensive play in which a player slides across the court to save the ball from going out of bounds.

Screen:

An illegal act that occurs when a player blocks the view of another player.

Scoring:

The process of earning points in volleyball by successfully executing an attack or capitalizing on the opponent’s mistake.

Smash:

A powerful attack where the ball is hit with great force and speed.

Substitution:

The replacement of one player with another during a game.

Side-out:

A side-out occurs when the serving team fails to return the ball over the net.

Service Error:

A violation that occurs when a server commits a fault while serving the ball.

Side Set:

A type of set where the setter positions the ball to the outside hitter or a hitter positioned near the sideline.

Sanctions:

Official penalties or punishments imposed on teams or players for rule violations, including fines or disqualifications.


T

Tip:

A soft and controlled offensive move where a player uses their fingertips to lightly redirect the ball over the net.

Tempo:

Tempo in volleyball refers to the speed or timing at which the ball is set by the setter to the hitter, creating various attacking options and disrupting the opponent’s defence.

Tempo sets:

Tempo sets are quick or fast-paced sets delivered by the setter, usually closer to the net, allowing hitters to attack with speed and catch the opposing block off guard.


U

Underhand pass:

A technique where the ball is played using an underhand motion with both hands.

Utility position:

A player who can play multiple positions and fulfils various roles on the team.


V

Violation:

A violation is a rule infraction that results in a point being awarded to the opposing team.

Volleyball Positions:

Designated areas on the court where players are strategically placed to perform specific roles and responsibilities. Read More


W

Wild Serve:

A wild serve is a serve that is hit out of bounds or that is not controlled by the serving team.

Wipe Shot:

A wipe shot in volleyball is an attacking technique where a player intentionally aims to hit the ball off the opponent’s block, causing it to deflect out of bounds.


X

X-play:

A coordinated offensive play where two attackers cross paths and switch positions to confuse the blockers.

X-set:

A type of set where the ball is delivered to the attacker in a crossing motion, often used to bypass the blockers.

X formation:

A defensive strategy where players position themselves in an “X” shape, covering different areas of the court.


Y

Youth volleyball:

Volleyball played by young athletes, often in age-specific leagues or tournaments.

Yell:

Vocal communication used by players to call for the ball or communicate with teammates during the game.


Z

Zero tempo:

A quick and immediate set delivered by the setter to an attacking player who is already in motion, without a pause or delay.

Zone:

A specific area on the court, often referred to when discussing defensive or blocking strategies.


I hope this comprehensive glossary enhances your understanding and enjoyment of the exciting game of volleyball.

Whether you’re studying the sport, playing on the court, or cheering from the sidelines, having a firm grasp of volleyball terminologies will undoubtedly enhance your experience.