A Tutorial On Types of Digs In Volleyball The Forearm and Overhead Dig

Types Of Digs In Volleyball | Improve Your Volley` ``

A Tutorial On Types of Digs In Volleyball The Forearm and Overhead Dig

Explore my step by step tutorials for the standard types of digs in volleyball the forearm dig and overhead dig as well as other types of emergency digs to use.

Volleyball is a game filled with spectacular saves, athletic abilities and acrobatic movements used to keep the ball off the floor when your team is on offense or on defense. 

A crucial skill you need to work on improving in order to do these  movements is the  "dig".

How to Dig in Volleyball: 

To dig a volleyball up in defense you keep an attacked ball by the opposing team off your court floor by extending your arms and hands under the ball to deflect it back in the air before it hits the floor. 

At the beginning of this guide, I explain the two fundamental types of digs in volleyball most commonly used: The Forearm Dig and The Overhead Dig.

Next, I invite you to review my glossary of terms describing several types of emergency digs, that are the more uncommonly used types of digs in volleyball useful in an emergency when the ball comes at you fast or you have to chase a ball down. 

The Most Commonly Used Types of Digs in Volleyball: The Forearm Dig

The Forearm Dig

This is the most common method of preventing the ball from hitting the court after an opponent’s attack.

-Step 1:

Assume the ready position

  • feet shoulder-width apart,
  • slightly bent knees and hips
  • with shoulders in front of knees in an athletic stance with weight distributed on the balls of your feet for quick movement.
  • arms extended with palms up

-Step 2:

As the ball approaches, clasp hands together placing one closed fist inside the other hand keeping your arms together at the elbows and hold them out straight in front of you. Keep your wrists together and thumbs pointed towards the ground to manage your platform.

-Step 3:

Move your feet, while watching the approaching ball staying low in an athletic position to move behind the incoming ball keeping it directly in front of you.

Angle your arms towards the target and let the ball bounce off your forearms below the inside elbow and above the wrists.

Remember, the goal is to cushion the ball while redirecting it towards your intended target which is usually your setter.

 The Most Commonly Used Types of Digs in Volleyball:
The Overhead Dig

This dig involves contacting the ball with the ball above your head, like a volleyball set.

It's often used when the ball is coming fast and high, and you have time to get under it.

-Step 1:

Position yourself under the ball, maintaining the same ready position as with the forearm dig.

-Step 2:

As the ball gets near you, lift your hands above your head, forming a triangle with your thumbs and forefingers, similar to how you prepare for setting.

4 Digging Drills For Volleyball Players Like The Hit And Overhead Digging Drill 

I teach this drill a lot to beach partners when I'm coaching sand volleyball.

This works overhead open hand digging for hard hit balls that come at you usually from the neck up. This happens alot in beach volleyball.

Usually your partner hits at you so the ball is aimed for your chest and up and you start your digging hand ready position higher than what you do with regular pepper. 

The goal is to push the ball...some even say "set the hard hit ball" up in the air....so your partner steps in to set it for you.

-Step 3:

Contact the ball with the flatter, firmer part of your fingers, extending and straightening shoulders toward the ceiling pushing upwards to softly redirect the ball towards the intended target.

While it's great to learn different types of digs in volleyball, the two basic forms which I described above are the bread and butter of any player's repertoire.

What do you need to do as a player?

Plan to put in the time and the repetitions in passing and setting drills to make sure you practice them repeatedly. The players who perform these skills the best are the ones who get playing time the most. 

The Most Uncommonly Used Types of Digs in Volleyball:
A Glossary of Terms For Emergency Digs

With this glossary of terms below I explain the various emergency types of digs in volleyball that a player can use to keep a ball playable and off the floor.  

Did you know that in volleyball you can legally dig a ball up without using your hands? 

Many times in fast moving situations players have to make last minute situations in order to dig a ball up. 

Sometimes you have time to plan to get your hands up in time to redirect the ball and sometimes you just don't. 

The ball can contact certain parts of your body and remains 'live' and playable as long as it doesn't come to a complete stop. 

If the ball contacts certain parts of the body and comes up "clean"... meaning the ball does not come to a rest, a stop or a pause, then that ball can be played again by a teammate if its the first or second contact on a team's side or the ball is allowed to cross over the net if its the third contact for a team in a rally.  

Types of Digs in Volleyball: The Six Pack

Six Pack

When you're on defense and you don't put your hands up in time to dig a ball that hits you in the chest that's called a six pack or a chester. 

If the ball hits your chest and comes up without a rest or a pause then its a playable ball that can be played to finish a rally. 

Types of Digs in Volleyball: The Facial


A facial is not the usual procedure done with soap and water ...but it happens when an opposing attacker hits a ball so hard that a backrow defensive player cannot put their hands up in time before the ball hits their face.

This is called a facial and if they're lucky the ball doesn't leave a tattoo...see below. 

If the ball comes up clean and doesn't come to a stop or a rest on the face a second player is allowed to play the ball and continue play. 

A facial is the slang term for getting hit in the face by a hard attack hit...

Types of Digs in Volleyball: The Tattoo


A tattoo is what happens when you get hit by a hard driven ball and the ball leaves a mark or a bruise on your skin. 

The mark is usually the shape of the ball or even the name of the ball maker like Molten or Mikasa. 


By using the back of your hand to keep the ball from touching the floor the libero/digger/backcourt specialist/defender has used one of the three allowed contacts each team is allowed to continue to play the ball after it bounces off the hand and back into the air...to get it over the net during a rally. 

Types of Digs in Volleyball: Flipper


The flipper is usually done while staying on your feet or running through the ball but many players, actually use the flipper motion when they are diving for a ball when their whole body hits the floor after their dig.

Types of Digs in Volleyball:
The Shank 


To shank a ball means the ball skips off your platform arms (when you're trying to dig a ball or pass one) which are no longer low and angled towards your intended target so now the ball skids or skips off your arms and you watch it hurl its way off the court where no one can play it up or save it.

5 Types of Digs In Volleyball: 
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