Passing in Volleyball: What, When, Where, Why and How To Serve Receive

Learn how to improve your passing in volleyball technique, when you pass the ball in serve receive, and why you need to do it consistently

Passing in volleyball is the way to get the ball from one person to another and from one side of the net to the other side by using your forearms as a tool that creates a flat platform to contact the ball. 

Passing occurs most often as the first of three contacts the team in serve receive uses to set up their attack against the defensive team.

Passing in volleyball:
How do you pass a ball?

You keep your hands and wrists pressed together with the fist of one hand inside the other hand while the thumbs of both hands point down to the ground.

Keeping the thumbs pointed to the ground when contacting the ball keeps your arms straight.

Your arms need to be kept straight in order to maintain a flat surface like the one you would see on a table top.

As we say in volleyball, this is your "platform."

You would then use your "platform" to make contact with the ball, while angling your arms and shoulders to your target.

This guides the ball to

  • your target
  • your setter or 
  • to another hitter or
  • even across the net

depending on where you want the ball to go.

Improve Your Passing in Volleyball:
The "Ready" Position?

Before the rally starts, a player will position her body in an athletic stance, which many coaches call the "ready position."

Feet, Knees, Legs

Feet are just outside the shoulders, with knees slightly bent in a loaded position so its easy to move right, left front or backwards to get to where the ball has been served. 


Shoulders are over the knees and arms are held out in front of you.

Your shoulders and upper body should be leaning forward a bit and parallel and squared to the net while you face the server.


You don't want your arms too close to you nor do you want them too far away from you.

We tell our clients and boot campers that you should be able to fit a volleyball ball under your armpits. 

That's the perfect distance that your arms should be held away from your body in your ready position. 

How To Improve Your Passing in Volleyball: 
Move Fast To The Ball

When done correctly this stance prepares you to move quickly to the ball.

In our Boot Camp classes we have passers use a shuffle step using big and fast steps to beat the ball to where its going to land.

We teach passers to move fast enough to get to where they think the ball is going to be..and to be there before the ball does. 

Different players adopt varying styles but generally your ready position should be an athletic stance which allows you to move quickly in any direction.

The Passing Pre-Ready Position Stance

I teach my players and students to place their hands on their knees as the resting pre-ready position in serve receive.

You have your hands on your knees while the server is bouncing the ball and going through their pre-serve routine. 

This gives you a chance to

Just before the server tosses the ball you bring your hands off your knees to the ready position described at the beginning of this page. 

Many college and professional players choose to extend their arms in front of their body or out to the sides with their elbows bent at a 30 degree angle with their palms open towards the sky.

I believe that whether you keep your elbows in front of you, keep your hands on your knees  or have them out to the side is a personal choice.

In my career I've tried both and I found that the one that I used the most was the one that allowed me to use my arms in a running motion, faster, so I could quickly run to the ball if I needed to, before presenting my platform to pass it.

For me, holding my arms in front of me or putting my hands on my knees allowed me to do this faster.

The key to remember is that you want to be as quick on the draw as possible and you want to take the least amount of time to go from your ready position to actually contacting the ball, so you need to figure out which stance will allow you to do that.

To Summarize What
Passing Is

When you pass a volleyball, you are transferring the ball from one player to another or over the net

  • without letting the ball come to a complete stop,
  • while clasping both hands together at the wrists and 
  • contacting the ball on your forearms

Whether you call it the volleyball bump, the serve receive, the underhand pass or the forearm pass every player needs to master the art of controlling the ball while consistently passing it to the intended target. 

You do that by doing lots and lots of reps which we do and practice in our Boot Camp classes. 

How To Play Volleyball:
Where Do You Go From Here?

Your three options are: 

  1. You can learn more about Passing in volleyball by visiting 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 How to Play Volleyball section in the drop down menu at the top of the page to get started. 
  4. Before leaving this page Say "Hi" to  Ms. Resee the Kangaroo, wearing the #11 jersey below. She's a left side hitter with precision passing and a member of the VolleyBragSwag All Beast Third team

Meet Resee the Kangaroo and Passing Specialist on
VolleyBragSwag's All Beast Team

For more volleyball skills and passing information

Serve Receive and 
Passing Information

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