Volleyball Passing Errors

Common Terminology Used for Serve Receive and Passing Errors

Volleyball Passing Errors:Tulsa volleyball player passing a ball
photo by Michael JohnsonVolleyball Passing Errors: Tulsa volleyball player passing a ball photo by Michael Johnson

Did you know that certain volleyball passing errors have special names?

When passing the ball, the idea is to get the ball to travel from one place

to another, whether its from one teammate to another or from one

player  to over the net. 

A passing error occurs when you try to pass the ball to another player

and the ball hits the floor or goes out of bounds before your teammate

can get to it and either pass, set or hit the ball to continue the rally. 

When Do Volleyball Passing Errors Occur?

Volleyball passing errors happen often when a team is on serve receive

and they are facing an opposing team with a tough server. 

The server will do everything to make it difficult for one your passer's to

pass the ball perfectly up to your setter. 

They are going to serve as tough or as strategically as possible to force a

passing error so your team cannot run an offensive play against them.  

Below, I've described three different types of volleyball passing errors

that you can commit either in serve receive or while passing a ball

during a rally. 

What does "shank" mean?

To a normal person, using everyday language a shank has three

possible meanings:

a) it could be a sharp object used to stab something

b) the lower part of a person's legs usually describing the knee to the


c) for the third possible meaning in normal language a "shank" can

mean to mishit a ball or badly contact a ball sending it in a direction you

weren't aiming for.

This occurs most often in golf. 

In this case, the golfer and the volleyball player have some things in


After swinging his club, the golfer may shank a golf ball, sending the ball 

in a direction he wasn't aiming for. 

In volleyball, the same thing happens to a player, but instead of a golf

club, you would shank the ball after being served, with your angled

platform arms sending the ball in a direction you weren't even aiming


The "shank" is the word that commonly appears in a phrase used by a

player, coach or fan like "Wow, you really shanked that ball".or "Hey did

you see how far he shanked that ball?"

It's used to describe a player who miscontacts  a hard serve or hard

hit sending the ball ricocheting off her arms out of bounds instead of to

the setter or the intended targeted player. 

When you "shank" a ball because of your inability to pass it to another

teammate or over the net, and it lands out of bounds before a

teammate can help recover it and if the opposing team doesnt touch it

on its the way out, the result is a direct point awarded to

the opposing team.

What's an overpass?

In normal everyday language an overpass is the bridge road cars drive

on to cross over a river, a railroad or a freeway. 

In volleyball terminology, if you commit an "overpass", it means

that while passing a ball up to your setter, usually during an attempt to

receive the serve, you contact the ball with too much forward


Instead of going to your setter at the net,  it goes over the head of the

setter and directly over the net into the opposing team's court.

An overpass is one of the most common volleyball passing errors that

beginner players make. 

They occur when you have

it, so the forward movement of your body helps propel the ball over the

net instead of to its intended target, your setter.

Teams and players spend hours in practice trying to improve their

passing technique especially when faced with high speed serves from

the opposing team.

Their goal is to reduce or eliminate the chances of committing volleyball

passing errors like an overpass during a game.

Because when it occurs its easy for the other team to score a direct point

by just blocking or hitting the ball back into your court.

This action usually happens so fast that the team that committed the

overpass, doesn't have time to get set up in defense, so the overpass

has forced them into a situation that's extremely hard to defend against. 

What's a "reception error"?


One of the few names for a volleyball passing error that actually is a

volleyball term. 

If your team keeps stats while they play, then whenever a

player on your team is unable to receive serve  that results in the ball

going to the setter or another player,  then that player gets

"credited"  on the volleyball stat sheet for a reception error.

Okay let's make it simple.

A "reception error" is a fancy way of saying that on the first contact of the

ball in serve receive you either "shanked" the ball, "overpassed" the ball

or contacted the ball in a way that it hit the  floor or went out of bounds

before another teammate or setter could touch it to make a second


What's 'passing on a dime' mean?

The term "passing on a dime" does not describe any volleyball passing


In fact its quite the opposite. 

This is one of the terms that celebrates an excellent execution of a player

passing the ball to the target. 

Ever hear someone say "Oh that's right on the money" if so you are

headed in the right direction toward understanding this phrase. 

UOP player passing a ball
photo by Inky HackUOP player passing a ball photo by Inky Hack

Passing dimes, or setting dimes means you are passing or setting balls

right to the intended target!

So yes, this actually is a good thing!

If a player uses the word 'dime" for example in a phrase like "She passed

the ball on a dime" then they are describing a situation where you made

a perfect forearm pass or bumped the ball right to the intended target.

In almost all cases the target is the setter, or the setter's hands if she's

on the move or to the setter's area if she's coming from her starting

position in serve receive.

Basically, its the latest, greatest coolest way of complimenting someone

for making  a perfect pass!

  1. Improve Your Volleyball
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  3. The VB Word
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  5. Terms For Passing Errors

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