Volleyball Terms Used in Defense

Defensive Terminology Elite Players Use in
Practices and Matches

Study these volleyball terms used in individual defense  to become an

effective libero, back row player or  defensive specialist.

They describe various techniques  players use to dig up and control a

hard driven ball attacked by the opposing team into your court after the

serve, during a rally.


photo by ce andersen


In defense, once the ball gets hit past your blockers in the front row by the

opposing team, your team's primary objective, is for your back row

players to keep the ball off of the floor.

Your team is trying to keep the other team from scoring

a point while keeping the ball in play, by getting the ball back

up to your setter to run the offense so your team can score.

To do that successfully, the coach, based on the scouting report on the

opposing team, chooses blocking patterns or tactics combined with

back court defensive strategies for your players to stop the opposing

team from spiking, tipping or  successfully hitting the ball into your court

for points.

Practicing Defense 

Learning to play defense is often compared to learning dance

choreography or to memorizing the steps to a new hip hop or exercise


When the front court blockers are instructed to block certain hitters and

take a certain area of the court away from them, the back court diggers

work in tandem with the blockers to make sure they cover the

other parts of the court.

For example, if Team A has a hitter that hits mostly cross court, then Team

B's blockers who are in front of that hitter will be instructed to block that

hitter cross court in order to stop her attack.

Meanwhile, the back court diggers will be instructed to cover or defend  

the "line" area of their court in  order to make sure all holes and open

spaces where the ball could be hit to, in the court, are covered.

Find volleyball terms used in defense below,  that explain defensive

techniques, fault calls or strategies. 

Volleyball terms used in defense: What's a volleyball dig?

To dig a volleyball you need to create a platform with your forearms

which you use to deflect or redirect a spike, tip or hard driven hit back up

to your setter, libero or teammate.

"Dig" the ball is a slang term used to mean "defend" the ball up in the air

which requires you to stay in a low athletic stance with your knees bent

while using your forearms to deflect the ball up into the air after its

been hit by a member of the opposing team in order to keep it from

hitting your court floor.

The key to digging is to get your hips below the level of the ball just

before you make contact.

Volleyball terms used in defense: What's a dive?

When you "dive after a ball" you are using one type of defense

technique used by players to land on the ground after they've

contacted the ball in order to keep it off the ground. 

When you dive, it's because you have to run after a ball that's

more than a few feet from where you are playing and you need to dive

head first with your platform outstretched in front of you to "dig a

volleyball" up so that it can remain in play.  

Usually to do this with balls that are more then 4-5 feet a way from you,

you will have to lift both feet off the ground before contacting the ball

with your extended platform in order to contact the ball before the ball

contacts the floor.

Once the ball has been lifted up high enough for a

second  player to make contact, the diver will now have to quickly put

their hands on the floor.

This is followed by lowering the chest and then hips

to maintain control of their body weight while pulling themselves

through their arms.

This motion is helped by the forward momentum gathered by

running forward when chasing the ball. 

Volleyball terms used in defense: What's a double hit?

If you commit a double hit, that means your body made contact with

the ball twice, before someone else was able to contact the ball.

This action according to official volleyball rules is illegal and is called a


If a hitter spikes a ball to a defender on the opposing team who digs it

with her elbows bent so the ball hits her forearm and then hits her bicep

before the setter has a chance to touch it, then that's a double hit.

The ball contacted the defender twice before any other teammate

could touch it.

Ref blows the whistle, the other team gets the point and the serve. 

This is a major reason why you want to keep your elbows as straight as

possible when you form your platform to dig a ball.

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