Digging Volleyball Spikes 
How To Keep The Ball Off The Floor and Make The Dig 

Digging volleyball spikes and keeping the ball from hitting the court floor 

is a large part of the  job description for liberos, defensive specialists and 

six rotation players who have to play defense in the back court.

Learn four types of digging that keeps the ball off the floor.

Digging Volleyball SpikesWhat's a "lip"?

Lipping a ball is a volleyball dig used to keep the ball off the floor. 

To "lip" a ball is a slang term pure and simple.

 "Girl you lipped that ball!"

This phrase has a couple of explanations depending on who you ask.

Most commonly "dig lips" or "digging lips" refers to a defensive player 

who digs a hard hitter more than once in the same play. 

As far as volleyball terms used in defense go, if you have a 

teammate that tells you "Nice lips" that means you made back-to-back 

amazing digs in a rally after an opposing hitter ripped a ball.

Some players who want to compliment a teammate who's digging well 

say that player is "digging lips".

That player is digging so well that it seems like the opposing team's 

hitter has "told them" where  they were going to hit the ball, before they 

hit it, so  the digger "read the lips" or read the body language  of where 

the hitter supposedly said or indicated where they were going to hit.

In this case, the digger's ability to "read the lips" of the hitter calls for

the use of this "diggin' lips" slang term.

Because of their awesome defense ability to know or read where the ball

was going to be hit, before the ball was hit and to be in the right place at

the right time.  

The third meaning for the "diggin' lips" term comes from the

shape the arms are in when they are placed

together to form the platform that's used to dig a volleyball with.

This comes into play, especially when a player has to dig a ball that's

over their head.

Just try something, if you form a platform with your arms, the same one 

you use to pass a ball or dig a volleyball with, then if you look in the 

mirror at that the reflection of your arms.

From a side angle if your platform is slightly turned as if you were passing

a ball to your side, your arms form the loose shape of a pair of lips.  

Watch This Volleyball Digging Gif From UTRF Athletics

You'll see what I mean when you check out the two volleyball

images below.  

Tilt your head to the right or left when you look at the picture below

and you'll see that the arms of the Oral Roberts player who's about to

finish in the bleachers are shaped like a pair of lips..go figure...

Yeah, its a slight stretch of the imagination, but there you


Digging Volleyball Spikes: What is an "up"?

A "nice up!" is a great defensive save or dig. 

It's in the same category of phrases or terms describing

an incredible volleyball dig,  like the term "nice lip" is.

This is what players say when a teammate has been digging 

volleyball spikes all match has made an incredibly 

unbelievable dig. 

An "up" comes as a result of a player who is continuously digging 

volleyball hits, tips and attacks that stay off the floor.

When she digs a playable ball she has dug the ball "up." 

Regardless of whether you have to dive, roll, extend, sprawl or just stand

in place to make great defensive saves, a nice "up" means you kept the 

ball from hitting your court floor. 

Digging Volleyball Spikes: What does "tagged" mean?

When a ball "tags" a player it means that they couldn’t get out of the 

way of a hard hit ball which touched him or her before it landed out of 


One of the most common ways you can get tagged is when you 

watch the action from the back row in a high stance instead of staying

 in a very low stance in defense.

This doesn't give you the readiness to move quickly in any direction to

retrieve a ball in defense. 

If a player from the opposing team hits a ball right at you and

and the ball touches your body  before you have a

chance to dig or a playable ball then you were "tagged" by the ball.

Digging Volleyball Spikes: What is a "touch"?

A "touch" is when a player contacts the ball. 

An example of a  "touch" happens when a player on a team

on defense is the last person to voluntarily or involuntarily touch the ball

while on defense or while blocking, before it goes out of bounds.

Let's say a hitter who is trying to use the block or is trying to wipe

the ball off of the block, will purposefully aim their hit at the outside

hand of the blocker that's closest to the antenna.

Liberos Make Digging Volleyball Spikes Look Easy 

This is a strategic move by the hitter, who's attempting to keep

the blocker from blocking the ball but is hitting the ball in a way

that the blocker "touches" the ball as it travels out of

bounds, making the blocker the last player to make contact with

the ball.

If the hitter in the picture below hits the ball so that it "touches" #15's

left hand and continues out of bounds without anyone else touching it,

then that point and the ball goes to Michigan (the hitter's) team

because the Central Michigan blocker was the last player to touch the

ball before it landed out.

This hitting action will result in an easy point for the attacking team.

Hitting High Off The Blocker's Hands 

Another common example of a touch occurs at the net when blockers

cant stop a hard hitting spike off the top of their hands. 

The ball bounces off the top of the block and goes out of bounds before

any back row players can dig it up. 

The point awarded to the team on offense is the result of the block

being the team to last touch the ball after the spiker hit it.

If the same play happens and this time the blockers don't block the ball

but they "touch" it in a way that the ball is slowed down by their block

and it stays in their court so that the back row players can get to the

ball to play it up, then the defensive team now has three more

contacts  to run a play and/or to get the ball back over the net.

This is a rule of volleyball that indoor players should know.

My last example of common "touches" that happen in volleyball are

visible in the picture below where a back row player on defense is

reaching for a ball or moving for a ball that's hit in a spot or at a

speed that they can't get to or control.

1121118Sac-WatCalTourny 170


photo by Luomen


That player ends up touching the ball, but isn't successful in getting the

ball up, so the ref indicates that that player was the last person to

"touch" the ball before the play ended and will award a point and the

ball to the opposing team.

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