An attack error is when a hitter attempts to send the ball across the net to the opposing team's side, but fails to do so, or if they do, it is done illegally. Some examples of an attack error are when the ball is hit out of bounds, into the net, is blocked by the opposing team, the player hits the net or steps over the centerline, or contacts the ball illegally. These errors are monitored and kept track of in player and team statistics. When any attack error is made, the team which made the error loses that point, and the other team receives the serve.
When a hitter sends the ball over the net, it counts as an attack error if the ball does not land inside the bounds of the court. Line refs and up and down refs keep an eye on the lines to make sure they know whether the ball lands inside or out of the court. If the ball touches the boundary line at all, it is considered in.
If the ball lands outside of the court, it is a hitting error, and the other team receives the point and the serve. Another way for the attacker to hit the ball out of bounds is if they hit the antenna that sits on top of the net. If the ball hits the antenna at all, it is considered out of bounds, and the player has committed an attack error.
If a player hits the ball into the net on their swing, causing the ball to drop to the ground or forcing another player to touch it as a fourth hit, the player has caused an attack error. Only three touches are allowed on one side before the ball is sent over the net, so if the hitter is the third touch and the ball goes into the net, it is an automatic attack error. However, if the hit is the second touch and it goes into the net, the team still has an opportunity to send it over the net, negating the possible attack error.
A common attack error occurs when the hitter hits the ball into the block on the other side of the net. If the block returns the ball and it drops to the floor, an attack error has been made. There are several cases however when hitting the block does not cause an attack error. If the block touches the ball and it lands out of bounds, this is called tooling, and the point goes to the attacking team. Hitters can tool on purpose is the block in front of them is too strong to hit through or around.
Another attack error occurs when a player violates rules by touching the net or stepping over the center line that lies under the net. If the hitter makes any contact with the net with their swing or any part of their body, they will be called on a net violation and lose the point. Similarly, if they step over the center line, the hitter will have committed an attack error and will lose the point.
Another cause of an attack error comes from an illegal contact on the ball. Examples of illegal contacts are a back row attack, a lift, or a double. If a back row player jumps and hits the ball from in front of the ten-foot line, they will be called for a back row attack and will lose the point.
A lift is when the player makes more than a quick contact with the ball to move it. If they make a prolonged contact and move the ball too much while it is still touching their hand or platform, they will be called for a lift and will lose the point.
Similar to a lift, a double is an error made when the player comes into contact with the ball. If the player touches the ball twice instead of once as the come into contact, a double will be called. This happens mostly with overhead passes a player comes into contact with the ball at different times with each hand.
Each of these count as an attack error, causing the player's team to lose the ball.
Many attacking errors occur due to poor ball handling either from the attacking player or from the setter giving them the ball. If the hitter receives a set that is not timed well to their approach or height, this can cause a hit out of bounds or into the net.
Another way to prevent attacking errors into the block is to be aware of where the block is on the net and to try to hit around it. Players will also swing softer or tip the ball to place it on the court instead of trying to power the ball through the block.
With doubles and lifts, players can practice improving their ball handling skills on the court to avoid these mistakes in games. They can also practice their awareness of where they are on the court to avoid hitting the net or stepping over the centerline. Attacking errors will diminish with more experience the player has on the court and the more awareness they have of their own abilities and of hitting tactics and methods.