Strategy and Formations
There's a lot of strategy involved in volleyball. Coaches and players coordinate who hits the ball, when, and how to get a strategic advantage over the opposing team.
- Closing The Block
- Area Block / Soft Block
- Soft Spike
Soft Block / Area Block
A block with a player's hands high and back to keep the ball in play. It's best used against a really strong attacker.
Attack Block / Hard Block / Penetration
A block with a player's hands up and over the net to stop an attack. This usually involves penetration, which is when a player's arms cross, but do not touch the net.
Block Assist / Double Block / Triple Block
More than one player can make a block. When players come together to make a block, it's called a block assist. A block with two players is called a double block. A block with three players is called a triple block.
Stuff / Roof
A block that puts the ball back into the opponent's court is called a stuff. A stuff that results in a point is called a roof.
Closing The Block
When players come together to make a block, they make sure to close any space where the ball could get by. This is called closing the block.
A defensive player might stick with one attacker during the game and jumping with that player every time. This is called commit blocking.
Setting The Block
Players with a specific person to block will be told to set the block by teammates as their assignment.
You'll see players dive and throw themselves to the floor to save the ball from hitting the ground. Defensive players often do whatever they can to make a save.
During a dive a player might stick their hand out flat on the floor, like a pancake, and allow the ball to hit their hand instead of the ground to save it.
A defensive move where the player falls onto one leg to make a save.
A defensive move where the player rolls on the ground to make a save.
You'll see the defense block attacks a lot, but sometimes they choose not to. This is called a down-ball, when they just let the ball come over the net and defend it without a block.
This is when the middle back player comes up to cover short shots like dinks and tips, leaving the other players available to make the next hit.
Every time you see a player attempt to send the ball into the opponent's court, it's called an attack. Most of the time you'll hear this called a spike most often. The player making an attack is called the attacker.
The typical attack is hit with a lot of force, at a downward angle towards the ground. Sometimes players hit the ball a bit differently to get a strategic advantage.
An attack hit with less force than normal to catch the defense off guard is a soft spike.
Cross-Court Shot / Cut
An attack that goes from one side of the court to another is called a cross-court shot.
Similarly, an attack hit at a sharp angle is called a cut.
Dink / Tip
An attack hit with very little force, usually just the fingertips is called a dink or a tip.
An attack aimed at hitting the sideline or just inside the sideline is a line-shot. Usually it's to make the defense think the ball is going out of bounds.
This is when the setter hits the ball over the net, rather than setting it to a teammate to catch the defense off guard.
A decoy is a strategy used to trick the defense. The team on offense tries to hide the attacker by having another player jump to make it look like they're about to make an attack.
This is another strategy used to trick the defense. The team on offense has one (1) player hide behind another and then jump from behind the other player to make an attack.
A dump is a strategy used to catch the defense off guard. The team on offense hits the ball over the net on the second hit, rather than the third.
A cover is used to protect against a block. Offensive players surround the attacker to try to save the ball if it is blocked.
Wipe / Tool
An offensive player can hit the ball off of the arms of a blocker so that the ball goes out-of-bounds and results in a point for the offense. This is called a wipe or tool.
Strong Side and Weak Side
On offense, players try to avoid their opponent's dominant hand when hitting the ball over the net.
For example, most people are right handed, so the offense would try to hit the ball to the right side of the court (the weak side), which would be towards the other team's left hand.
This means the left side of the court would be the strong side.
This can be a bit confusing: just think of the dominant hand (right or left), the weak side is the same as the dominant hand and the strong side is the opposite.
The numbers are places the server can aim the serve. Players can also use the serving zones to communicate to their teammates where to aim the ball during the game.
Strategy Glossary Terms
Here are all the terms we will be covering related to ball movement in volleyball:
- Area Block
- Attack Block
- Block Assist
- Closing The Block
- Cross-Court Shot
- Commit Blocking
- Deep Set
- Down Ball
- Double Block
- Hard Block
- Libero Substitution Zone
- Middle Up
- Quick Set
- Serving Zones
- Set Attack
- Set The Block
- Strong Side
- Soft Block
- Soft Spike
- Trap Set
- Triple Block
- Weak Side