Volleyball Strategy

Blocking Formations

Soft Block/Area Block

A soft is a type of block with a player’s hands high and back to keep the ball in play rather than killing it on the opposing team’s side. It’s best used against a really strong attacker or when trying to keep the ball in play. Many players who cannot get into a strong blocking position in time will often perform a soft block.

Attack Block/Hard Block/Penetration

An attack block is a type of 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. This type of block is meant to kill the ball on the opposing team’s side to not allow for a return. Hard blocks are more susceptible to having the ball bounce off the block and out of bounds.

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.


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. When a player is able to get into proper position for a block, they will usually try to stuff the attacker. However, there is a higher risk that this strong block results in the ball bouncing off and out of bounds, resulting in a point for the other team.

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. While this is not always possible, players should try to anticipate the set and get to the block as quickly as possible to close the gap.

Commit Blocking

A defensive player might stick with one attacker during the game and jump with that player every time they make an approach. This is called commit blocking. This tactic may be used if a blocker is struggling to get to different sides of the court or if a hitter is playing particularly well.

Defensive Strategies


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. Dives are usually only required on spikes and well placed serves that are placed in an empty space.


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. This is essentially the last resort for a dive if the player thinks the ball is just out of reach of both arms. If the ball has enough momentum or speed,

Middle Up

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.

Offensive Strategies


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.

Soft Spike

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.

Set Attack

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.

Serving Zones

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
  • Attacker
  • Block Assist
  • Closing The Block
  • Coach
  • Collapse
  • Cross-Court Shot
  • Commit Blocking
  • Cover
  • Cut
  • Decoy
  • Deep Set
  • Dink
  • Dive
  • Down Ball
  • Double Block
  • Dump
  • Five-one
  • Floater
  • Four-two
  • Hard Block
  • Hitter
  • Key
  • Libero
  • Libero Substitution Zone
  • Line-Shot
  • Middle Up
  • Option
  • Pancake
  • Penetration
  • Quick Set
  • Roll
  • Serving Zones
  • Set Attack
  • Setter
  • Set The Block
  • Six-two
  • Strong Side
  • Soft Block
  • Soft Spike
  • Spike
  • Spiker
  • Stuff
  • Switch
  • Tandem
  • Tip
  • Tool
  • Trap Set
  • Triple Block
  • Weak Side
  • Wipe