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The Basics of Volleyball | Guide for Beginners

June 22, 2023

Volleyball is not just a fun recreational sport; it is a symphony of skills that are meticulously crafted and practiced over time. The beauty of volleyball lies in the intricate combination of physicality, strategy, and teamwork. For newcomers who want to join the vibrant world of drop-in volleyball or recreational leagues, understanding the fundamental volleyball techniques is essential for not only enjoying the game but also improving performance and becoming a valuable asset to your team.

This article serves as your comprehensive guide, introducing the basic techniques that beginners should know and providing valuable insights and tips on how to master them. By following the guidance provided here, you will be well-equipped to navigate the dynamic nature of the game, anticipate plays, communicate effectively, and develop a solid foundation of skills that will propel you toward becoming a skilled and competitive volleyball player.

1. Serving

One of the most crucial aspects of mastering volleyball is perfecting your serves. Serving is a fundamental skill that every player needs to master, as it is the action that starts each rally and can significantly impact the outcome of a game. Having a poor serve can cost your team valuable points and put you at a disadvantage.

When it comes to serving in volleyball, there are two main types: underhand and overhand. The underhand serve is often the first one beginners learn. It involves holding the ball in one hand and striking it from beneath with a fist-shaped hand. While it may not be as powerful as an overhand serve, its simplicity makes it more reliable, especially for newcomers. On the other hand, the overhand serve requires more practice and skill. This serve allows you to generate more speed and direction with the ball.

Underhand Serve: 

The underhand serve is the first serve most volleyball players learn. It’s the groundwork for understanding serving mechanics and is essential for all levels of play. Contrary to popular belief, it's not just about hitting the ball under your hand; it's about precision, control, and consistency.

While often overlooked, the underhand serve has strategic value. It can be deceivingly tricky to receive, especially when placed accurately. It's not about how hard you hit, but where and how you serve. A well-placed underhand serve can be just as effective as a more advanced serve in disrupting the opponent's formation.

Overhand Serve: 

In volleyball, the overhand serve stands out as a crucial skill, pivotal to setting the tone of the game. This serve, characterized by its power and speed, is a fundamental technique that players at all levels strive to master. Beyond just launching the ball over the net, the overhand serve is a tool of strategy and skill.

The overhand serve in volleyball goes beyond simply hitting the ball. It combines power, precision, and technique. When done correctly, it can elevate the serve from a basic start-of-play to an offensive tool. Unlike the underhand serve, the overhand serve offers more power and options in terms of speed, trajectory, and placement.

2. Passing

One of the fundamental skills every player must master is passing. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned player in drop-in volleyball games, perfecting your passing technique is crucial. Every excellent pass starts with the right stance. The ready position involves standing with your knees bent, feet shoulder-width apart, and arms prepared in front of you. This stance ensures quick and responsive movements, essential in volleyball. Practice this position to build muscle memory. It's particularly vital in drop-in volleyball scenarios, where adapting quickly to the play is key. By mastering the ready position, you ensure that you're always prepared to make a solid pass, no matter the speed or direction of the incoming ball.

Forearm Pass (Bump): 

In the game of volleyball, the bump, also known as the forearm pass, is a fundamental skill that every player must master. A well-executed pass can initiate a successful offensive play, set up a teammate for a powerful attack, or keep the ball in play during a challenging rally. Bumping, or forearm passing, is a foundational skill in volleyball that enables effective ball control and sets up successful plays. By focusing on positioning, hand placement, forearm technique, body alignment, timing, contact, and follow-through, you can develop a solid bumping technique. 

3. Setting

Every volleyball enthusiast knows the thrill of a well-executed spike. However, this electrifying move would be impossible without a great set. In essence, the setter is the playmaker, determining the flow and tempo of the game. Perfecting your setting skills can immensely improve your performance, whether you're playing in a recreational volleyball league or a casual drop-in volleyball game. 

Setting is not just about passing the ball; it's about setting up the play. A good set can provide your team with the opportunity to score and keep the momentum on your side. It's an indispensable volleyball skill that can be honed at every level, from drop-in volleyball to competitive leagues.

Overhead Pass (Setting): 

The setter usually takes up a position in the middle of the court, at the front of the net. As the ball comes towards you, ensure you are in the correct position to receive the ball and can set it to anyone on the court. When setting, use your fingertips to make contact with the ball. Your hands should form a triangle shape, with your thumbs and index fingers Once you make contact with the ball, push it up and out towards your teammate. The ball should go high up, with enough height to allow your teammate to make a hit.

4. Attacking

Attacking, also known as spiking, is the offensive action to score points. The aim is to hit the ball over the net and make it land in the opponent's court. The art of hitting requires a combination of technique, timing, and explosive power. Mastering the basics of hitting in volleyball is essential for becoming a potent offensive force.


The spike, or the 'attack' in volleyball, is a powerful offensive play aimed at hitting the ball into the opponent's court. It's an aggressive, highly satisfying move that, when executed correctly, can drive your team to victory. To set like a pro, start by positioning your hands above your forehead, forming a triangle with your thumbs and forefingers. As the ball comes towards you, cushion it with your fingertips, and push it upwards towards your target. Remember, the key is to be gentle yet firm. Practicing setting can be as simple as tossing a ball and setting it against a wall. This can be done anywhere, from your backyard to one of the many public parks.

5. Blocking 

Blocking is a defensive technique used to stop an opponent's attack before it crosses over the net. Blocks involve a jump at the net with arms raised to deflect an attacker's spike back into their court. Timing and positioning are critical in blocking. Try to jump at the same time as the attacker and ensure your hands are positioned over the net. While blocking may seem intimidating to beginners, mastering the basic steps can significantly improve your effectiveness on the court. Mastering blocking in volleyball isn't an overnight process; it takes time, practice, and persistence. Don't be disheartened by initial failures.

6. Digging

Digging is another crucial defensive skill in volleyball. It involves keeping the ball in play after an opponent's attack, often a spike, has been directed to your team's court. This move requires quick reflexes and solid forearm passing skills. It's executed similarly to the forearm pass, but it often involves a dive or lunges to reach a hard-driven ball. Key to this skill is anticipation, watching the opponent's body and arm position to predict the path of the ball. While the art of digging might seem complicated at first glance, with persistence, practice, and a positive mindset, you can master this vital defensive technique. 

7. Rotation and Positioning

While not a physical skill, understanding your position on the court and when to rotate is fundamental to volleyball. It's essential to know where to stand during the serve and where to move as the ball is in play. This understanding comes with practice and experience, so don't worry if you don't get it right away. Volleyball rotations are the tactical frameworks that dictate the positions and movements of players on the court. They range from simple to complex and nuanced, catering to various levels of play.

Typically, a volleyball team comprises six players, each assigned a specific role, and positioned strategically on the court. The positions are defined based on two primary areas: the front row and the back row. The volleyball positions are Setter (S), Outside Hitter (OH), Middle Blocker (MB), Right Side Hitter (Opposite Hitter), and Libero (Defensive Specialist). Check out this blog for a breakdown of each position: Understanding Player Positions

8. Communication

In volleyball, communication with your teammates is critical. Whether it's calling for a ball, signalling a play, or simply cheering each other on, effective communication can significantly improve team dynamics and performance. Even if you're playing a drop-in volleyball game, don't be shy to communicate with your teammates.

9. Practice Makes Perfect

The skills outlined above are fundamental to volleyball, but mastering them takes time and practice. Try to touch the ball as often as possible, whether that's at practice, a recreational game, or even at home. The more you practice, the more comfortable you'll become with these skills.

‍Finally, it's important to remember that volleyball is not just about the individual; it's a team sport. No matter how good your skills are, teamwork is the secret ingredient to a successful volleyball game. As you venture into your volleyball journey, embrace the camaraderie and community spirit that this wonderful sport fosters.

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