Various Types of Volleyball Spikes

Terminology For Various Volleyball Attacks and Hits

UH Volleyball 045

photo by Luomen

Photo by Luomen:  UH Player Spiking the line shot 

The various types of volleyball spikes described on this page should help

you with choosing and establishing your hitting strategy during your next


Just like a handyman uses tools to fix things, female volleyball players

have various offensive strategy  "tools" they can rely on to really go after

and attack the opposing team's defense. 

I am 6'0" and my professional volleyball career lasted a long time

because I learned how to hit and score points consistently by relying

on an extensive range  of volleyball spikes to use against  female

volleyball players that were much much taller than I was.

If you asked me to recommend three things a short female volleyball

player should absolutely spend hours working to improve her game and

how to play volleyball it would be to first improve your serve so that you

become a point-scoring machine from the service line.

Secondly, I would say to familiarize yourself with the terminology

describing these volleyball spikes and learn how to technically do these

skills so that you add options to your power volleyball game.

Lastly I would say to maximize your ability to tool the block which

will make you into a sideout machine, who can score points against a

tall block and will drive the opposing team crazy since that type of hit is

extremely hard for other players to block or dig.

Types of Volleyball Spikes: What is a tool?

As a hitter, you want to practice spiking the volleyball so that you

deliberately aim for the outer hand of the blocker who's attempting to

block you.

Your goal is to do this in a way that the ball gets deflected back to your

court but outside of the sideline, so it bounces outside of the court, on

your team's side. .


That's an easy point for you and it's one of the toughest volleyball hits

that is extremely difficult to play defense against.

That's why it's so effective.

Types of Volleyball Spikes: What is a wipe?

Another way many coaches and players say "tool the block" is called

"wiping the block" or  "wipe the block".

This volleyball term describes the wiping action a spiker's arm motion

will do when the player is aiming the ball for an opposing blocker's

outside hand.

Specifically, the one closest to the antenna, so that when it

comes back off of her hand the ball is deflected to outside the sideline

on the hitter's side landing outside of the volleyball court.

You wipe the block in such a way that you are in control of the fact that

the blocker is the last person to touch the  ball before it lands outside of

the sidelines., on your team's side.

Whether you are learning how to play beach volleyball or specializing

in the indoor game incorporating this element in your volleyball spike

training drills is essential and many female players rely on "the wipe"  as

an option to score when they've been given an imperfect set.  

What's a line shot?

The line shot in spike terminology is another volleyball hitting option for

front row attackers.

Hitting the line shot would require you to contact the top 1/3 of the ball

so it travels parallel to and within the sideline that you are playing the

closest to. 

Likewise if you are the right side hitter spiking from your team's zone 2,

then you would be making a line shot if you spiked a ball or sent an

offspeed shot in or near zone 4 or zone 5 of the opposing team's court.

If you are the front row hitter, hitting the ball from your team's  zone 4, then

you are making a line shot if you spike the ball or hit an offspeed shot to

zone 5 of the opposing team's court.

Hitting A Volleyball Hard Is Not
The Only Point Scoring Option

When you learn about various volleyball spikes and attacks,

you should always plan on adding the tip to your collection of hitting


A smart hitter doesn't want to rely on pure strength and hard hitting to

score points because there will come a day when that won't work for


You can become as confident as you want to as a hitter, but the best

ones are always prepared by having practiced many different ways of

scoring points offensively, not just one.

You want to become unpredictable as a hitter. And if your spike attempts

are always for the hard hit, then that isn't unpredictable. That's very


So much so that eventually your opponents will be able to anticipate

and read where you intend to hit next and begin to pick up on your


Players will start saying "Yeah we know how she hits. She always spikes

the ball hard. That's all she knows how to do. So let's set up our block

here and our defense here. And if we can't stop her hard hit at the net

with our block, we will pick it up in the back row with our defense."

They will also say "Sure she hits the ball hard and we know that she will

score some points for her team, but if she keeps hitting hard, all the

time, for the entire first set, then we know she will get tired.

When she gets tired then she won't hit as hard and it will get easier to

block her spikes at the net or it will get easier dig a ball she hits and  to

play defense against her."

And sooner or later (probably by about the third or fourth set)  it will get

harder and harder for you to score points against a team just by using

your hard volleyball spikes because they will already know what type of

spiker you are and they will set up their team defense accordingly.

Instead of always relying on spiking a volleyball, if you really want to

play volleyball like a star, then using the tip is a highly

effective offensive weapon.

Learn to use this in practice during your hitting drills and spike training,

which will keep the defense guessing  as to how you are going to

contact the ball next.

Watch three-time Olympic medalist and Brazilian outside hitter Jaqueline Carvalho known to have one of the hardest volleyball spikes in the world as she mixes up her attack and scores off of hard hits and smart well placed tips. 

During practice, you want to rehearse all of your “plan B” volleyball

spiking strategies.

You can improve your offensive game by spending your

time wisely doing repetitions of different volleyball hit options that will

prepare you for many of the different blocking or defense strategies the

opposing team will use to try and stop you in a game.

Don't Always Hit The Perfect Set

In your spike training drills, you want to know and you want to practice all

the possible things you will do, if and when you get the perfect set.

Of course, when you get a perfect set you are going to want to hit the

ball. But, that is also what the defense is expecting you to do.

To mix up your game, in practice, when your setter sets you the perfect

ball to hit, don't! 

Tip it instead.

If you do, you will catch the defense back on their heels because they

expected you to hit that ball hard and instead you fooled them and

tipped it softly over their block, short in their court. Now they have to

scramble to pick a ball up that they didn't expect to get.

In the book “The Art of War’ Sun Tzu says “Make your enemy prepare

on his left and then attack on his right.”

This means you must be flexible. You must be prepared to do what your

enemy does not expect you to do.

This is what smart hitters do.

They look for opportunities to outsmart the opposing team's defense.

After you've hit several balls hard against their block, on the next good

set your setter gives you, you should tip the ball to an open space on

the opposing team's court, they will never expect it.

A good strategy to adopt is for every 5 or 6 balls that you hit you may

want to try a tip on the next good set that you get.

Volleyball Spikes: Using The Tip To Save A Broken Play

Sure I know that you use the tip to save a broken play because many

times, at the last minute, that's the only thing you think you can do to

keep the ball in play.

But the question is still, how are you going to use the tip to save a

broken play?

This suggestion may sound risky but like all things once you get used to

doing it in practice then it will become a habit. Once things become a

habit, then we aren't so afraid of trying them when we have to, like in a

game situation.

One way a volleyball player like yourself, can save a broken play is to

soft tip the ball into the volleyball block on purpose.

Professional volleyball players and beach volleyball women use this

tipping technique to give themselves another opportunity to attack the


The way to do this is to aim the ball at the wrists and forearms of the

opposing teams blockers as they are in the height of their block against


You do it by contacting the ball with the tips of your fingers and

actually aiming it for the blockers wrists and arms so the ball will bounce

back high off of their arms and back into your court in a way that your

team, who should be covering you in defense as you hit the ball, has a

chance to easily replay the ball, digging it back to your setter so she

can set up another play.

Volleyball Spikes: Use The Tip To Use The Block

If you're an outside hitter then you can use the tipping strategy I talked

about above to your advantage by aiming the tip for the external wrist

and arm of the outside blocker in front of you.

Many hitters practice spiking a volleyball against the arms of the

blocker  so that the ball comes back outside their court boundary

line which gives the hitter's team the point.

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, this technique is called

"wiping off the block", or "using the block".

Well, you can do the same thing with the tip.

Instead of hitting the ball hard, if you get a set that's a little too close to

the opposing blocker and you still need to do something to score a

point, go up to tip the ball and aim it for the outside arm of the blocker,

the arm that's closest to the antenna.

Just as you do when you're spiking a volleyball, make sure the blocker is

the last person to touch the ball before it goes out of bounds on your

side of the court.

Now, that's called "using the block" with your tip.

Volleyball Spikes: It's Good To Be Last

Blocker and Hitter Jousting at The Net
Photo by C E AndersenBlocker and Hitter Jousting at The Net Photo by C E Andersen

Once again this third  exit strategy you can try will always be useful to

you because it’s extremely difficult for the opposing volleyball team’s

defense to pick this ball up.

If you find yourself in a joust with a blocker on the opposing team, then

you want to be sure to be the last player to touch the volleyball.

A joust happens when you are spiking a volleyball and your set may

float over the net more than you expect, so now you are forced to just

jump up and push the ball over the net.

Almost at the same instant, the opposing team's blocker who is blocking

against you realizes that you wont be able to hit the ball like you

wanted to because the ball is floating over the net a little too far out of

your spiking arm reach.

Volleyball spikes: UCLA vs Oregon Players in a Joust At Net
(JMR Photography)Volleyball spikes: UCLA vs Oregon Players in a Joust At Net (JMR Photography)

So now both of you see the same ball that is directly over the net, half

on your side and half on their side and you both jump up to push the

ball over on the other player's net. When you both contact the ball,

over the net, in midair at the same time, that is called a joust.

The second volleyball player to touch the ball has the advantage

because she is going up and pushing the ball over while the first player

is on the way down, losing her momentum and moving away from the


In practice when you are spiking a volleyball make sure you work on

perfecting this jousting technique so you can use it to score points

against the block.

Volleyball Spikes: Tipping The Ball Deep In The Court

When hitting a volleyball in practice drills, another volleyball spike

strategy is to practice how to tip the ball deep in the court.

Often volleyball hitters will choose to automatically tip behind the block

in an emergency situation, especially when they can’t see the open

areas of the court.

In practice, you should remember to rehearse tipping deep to open

areas in the opposing team's court so that it becomes a normal habit,

regardless of what situation you find yourself in.

To make yourself into a valuable point scoring hitting weapon

you want to have a collection of options to use instead of relying on just

hard volleyball spikes so that you have an offensive option that you can

fall back on in any situation.

Learning how to spike a volleyball consistently for points in many ways is

like  learning how to play chess.

There are certain moves that you want to make so that

a) it’s hard for the opposing volleyball team to figure out what you’re

going to do next and

b) it’s easier for you to score points or sideouts in the latter part of 

the volleyball game.

Meet T.T. Mugb, aka "Things That Make U Go Boom"
Lion and Ouside Hitter 
VolleyBragSwag's All Beast Team

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Learn How To
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