Decoding Volleyball Lingo: Understanding Popular Terms and Slang

May 31, 2023

Volleyball has its own unique language filled with terms, phrases, and slang that players and fans use to communicate on and off the court. Understanding popular volleyball lingo not only helps you follow the game but also allows you to connect with other players and enthusiasts. In this blog, we will dive into the world of volleyball jargon, decoding popular terms and slang to enhance your volleyball knowledge and vocabulary.

Common Volleyball Terms


An "ace" occurs when a server serves the ball in a way that the receiving team fails to make a successful pass, resulting in an immediate point for the serving team.


A "dig" is a defensive play where a player successfully passes or retrieves a hard-driven ball that is close to the ground, preventing it from hitting the court.


A "kill" happens when a player makes a successful attack that results in an immediate point, usually by hitting the ball with power and precision past the opposing team's defence.


A "side out" occurs when the receiving team wins the rally, earning the right to serve and the opportunity to score. In some contexts, it refers to a rotation where teams switch sides of the court.


A “quick” is a type of set usually used by the middle blocker. It is a short set that is put about a foot above the net that is meant to throw off the other team. 


The "libero" is a specialized defensive player who wears a different coloured jersey. They excel in passing, digging, and defensive maneuvers and have certain limitations, such as not being allowed to serve or play in the front row.


A "dump" is when the setter, instead of setting the ball for an attacker, strategically pushes the ball over the net into the opponent's court, catching them off guard. It is often used as a surprise attack when the defence is focused on the hitters.

Back Row Attack:

A "back row attack" occurs when a player jumps and attacks the ball from behind the ten-foot line. Back-row attackers are typically the team's setters or other players who excel in hitting from the back row.


A "joust" occurs when two opposing players simultaneously contact the ball at the net, resulting in a pushing or shoving match to gain control of the ball. It requires strength and timing to win the joust and direct the ball to your team's advantage.


A "pancake" is a defensive move where a player extends their hand and slides it flat on the ground, using their palm to prevent the ball from hitting the court.


A "roof" refers to a powerful and well-executed block that completely denies the attacking player's shot, sending it straight down to the ground on the attacking side.

Free Ball:

A "free ball" is a relatively easy ball that the receiving team passes over the net when they cannot execute an attack. It often results from a defensive play by the opposing team.


A "tip" is a soft, finesse shot typically performed by the front-row players, where they lightly tap the ball over the net, aiming to catch the defence off guard.


"Rotation" refers to the clockwise movement of players around the court after a side out. Each player moves to the next position, and the setter rotates to the back row.

Understanding popular volleyball lingo is essential for fully immersing yourself in the game and connecting with fellow players and fans. By decoding terms like an ace, dig, kill, quick, libero, pancake, roof, free ball, rotation, and more, you'll enhance your knowledge of volleyball and improve your ability to communicate effectively about the sport. So, the next time you step onto the court or engage in a conversation about volleyball, embrace the lingo and be a part of the vibrant volleyball community.

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