What Skills Are Essential For Volleyball?

Volleyball is a fast-moving game, so you need to have a basic understanding of several key volleyball skills to be a good player. You need to learn how to pass, set, hit, and dig effectively to help your team win the game. If you are going to play in a club or other competitive league, you will need to develop these basic volleyball skills.

In my years of training, I have coached several volleyball players. I see a common trait that they want to get into action as fast as possible and not bother about the practice. Now, I appreciate the spirit, but that is not the way to go

You need to master the basics to soar high in anything you do. You cannot expect to skip the hours of training and be the great volleyball player you want to be. We got that clear, let’s get into the actual skills themselves. This article is going to be in-depth!

What Are The Basic Skills In Volleyball?

If you are a player in a volleyball club, you may have already come across this question: What skills are essential for a good volleyball player? If not, you might wonder what the difference is between a good player and an excellent one. The short answer is that a good player can do all the basics well, while an excellent player can do them better than the rest.

While there are many skills you need to play volleyball, three stand out as the most important: serving, passing, and setting. If you can master these three skills, you’ll have the volleyball foundation you need to succeed on the court. 

But of course, you can’t stop at those three. The three skills I mentioned will get you started with volleyball for fun’s sake. If you wish to play serious games for your high-school or college team, you’re going to have to go full-stack!

Here’s a list of Basic Volleyball Skills -

  • Serving
  • Attacking
  • Digging
  • Setting
  • Volleying
  • Blocking
  • Bumping

As a beginner, you will need to focus on the core fundamentals that form the foundation of volleyball. As a result, you will want to develop skills in passing, digging, setting, serving, blocking, and attack. If you can master these volleyball basics, you will significantly improve your odds of success in the game.

Before you can even step into the team, you’ll have to learn these all. You don’t have to be the best with all of them, but you need to be proficient. If you can work hard and get a knack for all these skills, you will become a precious asset to any team.

Serving

If you can’t serve well, you can’t win games. Serving is one of the essential parts of the game and is the foundation for your team’s offense. It is where the entire attack starts. 

Let’s go over how you must serve a volleyball. A lot of times, the server will utilize the underhand serve. When you are the server, hold the ball in your non-dominant hand out in front of your body. Then you create a fist with your other hand. Then try to hit the ball with your palm while dropping the ball slightly before contact. 

You will notice that the underhand serve is mainly found in recreational games. But that doesn’t mean it is not an effective way to win points; you just have to plan out your strategy around it.

Then the next volleyball technique is the overhand serve. You will find most pros using the overhand serve but what we are talking about here is the standing overhand serve. We will discuss the one you’re thinking of in a bit.

The proper technique to serve overhand is by holding the ball in your non-dominant hand out in front of you. It is important to keep your elbow straight but flexible. Your stance is just as vital for this serve to be effective, so make sure your feet are staggered about shoulder-width. Toss the ball high in the air and hit it with your non-dominant hand’s palm. Try to squeeze in as much power as possible but prioritize proper contact.

Now, the jump float serve that most pros use is an advanced variant of the overhand serving style. It is a four-step approach that requires you to toss the ball with topspin, run up to position, jump, and hit with power. It is much more aggressive and difficult to stop when executed properly.

There are more types of volleyball serves you can perform, of course. But here’s what you must remember when using any serving style – watch out for line fault, use the correct stance, and practice making the perfect contact on the ball. The correct contact is vital to will give you the power, speed, and spin you want to generate.

Attacking

The attacking position in volleyball is one of the most exciting positions because it is where most of the scoring happens. Your job as an attacking player is to get the ball over the net and keep the opposing team on defense. 

Attack players are typically the smallest players on the court. Therefore, you need to rely on your quickness and agility to get past the blockers. If you are taller, that can be an advantage, but you must learn how to use your size and strength to your advantage.

The hit or spike is the most effective shot in volleyball. It is a quick, powerful hit over the net where the goal is to make the ball touch the ground on the opponent’s court. The most common mistake newer players make is to hit the ball too high, which gives the opponent too much time to react and often puts the ball out of bounds. It is often helpful to think of hitting the ball just over the net, not at the net.

A good spike should be accurate, not too hard or too soft, and placed. This makes the ball clear the net and makes life difficult for the opponents. The hitter should use the body to initiate the movement and use the arms and palm to add spin and height.

Another means of attack is called a tip. The tip is used to propel the ball over the net and to the opposing player. This technique does not involve a lot of power but needs precision. When tipping the ball, your goal is to exploit holes in the opponent’s defense.

Digging

Digging in volleyball is one of the critical aspects of the game. This skill has the potential to save your team from losing much-needed points, as well as winning points when your team is losing. Seeing how necessary digging is, it is essential to know how to dig properly. 

Digging is the act of blocking or getting the ball by jumping and diving. I would go as far as saying, it is the second most important skill in volleyball, with passing being the most important one.

The most important part of digging is the contact with the ball. It’s an athletic feat that requires speed, coordination, and a keen sense of timing. Ideally, you must contact the ball before you get flat on the ground unless you are trying to ‘pancake’ dive.

A ‘Pancake dive’ is when you dive and slide on the ground to prevent the ball from hitting the ground and instead let it rebound off of you to keep it in play. Yes, you really have to get as flat as a pancake.

I recommend you try to contact the ball while in the air, keep your head and chip up and contact the ground with the side of your knees, then the hips. You don’t want to get completely flat on the floor. Not only is it going to be painful, but it also makes you slower to get back into the action.

Setting

The set is one of the most crucial plays in volleyball. It is usually the second hit after you get the ball. It is different from a normal volley. Setting is used to direct the ball into the air so that the spiker (the person who spikes the ball) can spike it over the net into the other side of the court. 

Setting can take a lot of practice to master. When you get a good set, it can be a huge momentum changer, leading to a big score for your team. It can lead to a lot of kills or a lot of digs. On the flip side, a lousy set can lead to a lot of errors and lost points.

The setter needs to have a strong sense of the game as they make the calls and strategies that the team follows. Setters must be proficient at setting and passing the ball to the outside hitters.

Volleying

Many people believe volleying and setting are the same. But in fact, ‘setting’ is a type of volley. 

Volleying can be a bit tricky to understand and execute, and most beginners shy away from it. Why? Because it is surprisingly easy to get called out for violation by using the wrong technique.

The proper technique of volleying involves you putting your hands up over your head. Then make a diamond-like posture with your thumb and index fingers right above your forehead. This is the starting point for an overhead volley. You can pass the ball to your teammate or put it over the net to the opponent’s side of the court.

Blocking

Blocking is one of the most valuable skills in volleyball. It prevents the other team from getting the ball to the floor and scoring a point.

Every player must know how to block because it can completely shift the game’s momentum at any moment. I love blocking because the joy of blocking an opponent’s spike and seeing it being rendered useless is one of the best acts of play!

To block effectively, you need to be very quick on your feet, agile, and be able to jump high. Of course, if you’re tall, it helps immensely.

When you’re blocking, remember that no part of your body must touch the net, or it’ll be a violation of the game’s rules. Your opponent expects you to block, so you’ll have to be smart about your positioning and timing to beat them.

Bumping

Bumping in volleyball is the act of using your forearm to contact the ball and pass it around to your teammates. It is one of the most fundamental volleyball skills. 

And though bumping may seem basic, it can be one of the most challenging skills to master. It is often the first contact when the ball enters your side of the court. It is a bump that you’ll be using to kill a spike. 

Imagine a hard-hit spike rushing towards you in a split second.  You have to assume the proper stance and kill its momentum and pass to your team for a setup. Sounds tough now? It may be tricky, but it for sure is an exhilarating experience.

So, do not skip those bumping drills thinking it is not worth your time. Your bumping skills will prove to be the decider in intense rallies. Do not overlook this vital volleyball technique.

In Summary

Apart from all the skills listed above, good footwork is a must for any volleyball player, whether you are a hitter, defensive player, or setter. As a setter, you have to know how to set up your hitter correctly while moving. On defense, it’s necessary to have a good jump when trying to block a spike. For hitters, it’s critical to be able to generate as much power as possible quickly and hit accurately to gain a point. 

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Jonathan Roussel
Jonathan Roussel
Jonathan Roussel is a former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader and Indigo League champion. He now chases the dream to become a part-time Jedi Master like Gandalf. He means to reach his goals by sleeping 14 hours a day and eating pineapple pizzas.