Volleyball Passing Rules

Volleyball Passing Rules

In volleyball, players pass the ball to move it around the court and create scoring opportunities. There are rules that govern how and when players can pass the ball. Keep reading to learn all the rules and regulations of passing in volleyball.

Passing in Volleyball

Once the ball is served and a point begins, a team must pass the ball to keep the point alive. Passing occurs when one player either underhand or overhand passes the ball to another player on their team. Teams will try to pass the ball twice on nearly every possession (a reception and a set) before the ball is spiked over.

Passing the Ball

The first pass once a team gains possession is called a reception or a dig. This is usually a platform pass from one of the players in the back row. The goal of this pass may be just to pop the ball in the air in the case of a well hit spike or serve. In most cases, however, the goal of a dig is to pass the ball close to the net to put the setter in the proper position to set all three hitters.

Rules of Passing

A player can:

  • Pass the ball from anywhere on the court
  • Use any part of their body to pass
  • Pass underhand with a closed hand or overhand
  • Go out of bounds when passing the ball

A player cannot:

  • Pass the ball to themself
  • Be the first player to touch their own pass
  • Catch the ball or have prolonged contact
  • Underhand pass the ball with their palm

Goals of Passing

Why is passing an effective way to move the ball around the court in volleyball? Here are the reasons you should pass before you attack:

  • To get control of the ball
  • To set up an attack
  • To get the ball in the hands of a specific player

Setting Strategies

More often than not, the second pass will be in the form of a set, with a player's hands under the ball pushing it up towards a teammate. Sets are usually the second hit after a player has received or dug the ball from the opponent.

Players can use sets strategically to set up attacks. A trap set is very close to the net, allowing a player to attack close to the center line. A deep set is placed far from the net to throw off defenders. A quick set is fast and low; usually, the attacker can see it coming and jump before it is set.

Bump/Forearm Pass

If not a set, the pass is probably a bump. This is usually the first hit but can also be the second touch if the initial pass was poorly executed. Bumps and digs are done with your forearms brought together, pushing the ball up towards a teammate. It is important to use two arms and not swing at it with one arm, otherwise, a lift will be called. Bumps should be placed high and close to the net to allow the setter to position themselves in front of the hitters.


How many passes are you allowed in volleyball?

In volleyball, a team is allowed to pass the ball three times. The ball must be sent over the net in bounds on the third touch for play to continue. While teams always try to get three hits during a rally, that may not always work out and less touches are allowed.

Who usually gets the second ball after the first pass in volleyball?

After the first pass, the player who usually gets the second ball is the setter. The goal of the first pass is to place the ball close to the net so that the setter can pass the ball to a hitter. However, if the initial pass is shanked or difficult to handle, the libero will often take the second ball and act as a setter. It is important to know, however, that liberos can only overhand set behind the attack line.

Where should the ball hit you when you are passing?

When you are bump passing, you want the ball to hit you on your forearms. The best way to make a controlled bump pass is to put one hand on top of the other and flex your hand outwards to create a flat platform. For overhand passes, it is important to make your hands into the shape of the ball and push upwards with both hands at the same time in order to avoid a double hit. Also, make sure to avoid making prolonged contact with the ball, as that will result in a lift.