A Short Glossary of Volleyball Terms and Lingo Used For Passing A Ball

This short glossary of volleyball terms explains the techniques used to pass a volleyball and includes descriptions of common passing and serve receive errors.


This glossary of volleyball terms describes how to pass a volleyball and explains the various types of passing errors that often occur in a game. 

Learning how to pass a volleyball is one of the first skills a future high school volleyball varsity player needs to learn how to do well.



When passing the ball, the goal 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. 



What is a passing violation?


A passing violation in volleyball 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 does a passing violation 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 you or 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.  

I've created a mini glossary of volleyball terms that describe three different types of common volleyball violations and fouls committed either in serve receive or while passing a ball during a rally. 


Glossary of Volleyball Terms
What is a shank?


What does "shank the ball" mean?

The "shank" is volleyball lingo used to describe the action of a player who miscontacts a hard serve or hard hit sending the ball ricocheting off your arms out of bounds instead of to the setter or the intended targeted player. 



The "shank" is a slang 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?"

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 doesn't touch it on its the way out

the result is a direct point awarded to the opposing team.


Glossary of Volleyball Terms
What is an overpass?

When passing the ball, the goal 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. (Al Case)When passing the ball, the goal 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. (Al Case)


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 momentum.

So the ball, instead of going to your setter at the net, goes over the head of the setter and directly over the net into the opposing team's court.


Glossary of Volleyball Terms
What is a reception error?


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 contact.


Glossary of Volleyball Terms
What does "passing on a dime" mean?

Passing dimes, or setting dimes means you are passing or setting balls right to the intended target! (Ralph Arvesen)Passing dimes, or setting dimes means you are passing or setting balls right to the intended target! (Ralph Arvesen)


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

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. 


Passing dimes, or setting dimes means you are passing or setting balls right to the intended target! (Battle Creek Volleyball)Passing dimes, or setting dimes means you are passing or setting balls right to the intended target! (Battle Creek Volleyball)

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!


This has been an important message by your favorite volleyball coach! That's me!!

Thanks for visiting.

Be sure to check out more of my volleyball articles by clicking one of the links below!  (April Chapple)

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Follow me on Instagram @coach_apchap to improve your game even faster!

I share alot of individual, partner and easy-to-do volleyball serving drills we do in class with my followers.

Many of these volleyball practice drills you can do at home by yourself or try at your next practice with your teammates.

If you're a B team or JV player trying to make varsity next year...your goal should be to complete 1000 reps a day of at least three of the basic skills on your own...volleyball passing, serving and setting should be at the top of the list. 



The Volleyball Word
Where do you need to go now? 


Here are three options: 

  1. Learn more about the volleyball words, terms and terminology in the Related Links below.  
  2. Follow the suggested reading on our Sitemap page  Learning How To Play (Sitemap)
  3. Or visit the pages in the Information section in the drop down menu at the top of the page



  1. Improve Your Volleyball Performance with Vegas VB Coach April Chapple
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  3. What's This Volleyball Word? Basic Terms, Slang and Volleyball Lingo
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