The Volleyball Dig Pass: 5 Types of Digs For Passing A Ball In Defense

The volleyball dig pass is a term that describes how to pass a hard driven ball in defense using techniques like the Gator, Flipper, Pancake, Shank and J Stroke

The volleyball dig pass is a term that describes how a player digs a hard driven attack from an opposing hitter.

There are 5 slang volleyball terms like gator, jstroke, pancake, shank and nail that have different definitions outside of volleyball but in volleyball they describe how to dig balls up.

The Gator is a type of volleyball dig pass that describes a particular beach digging technique

The 'gator" dig is a volleyball dig pass used by advanced beach players who will hold the heels of their hands together to form the shape of an alligator's mouth to dig a hard driven hit back up into the air for their partner to make a play with. 

I love the gator dig. In fact I tend to do it too much when I'm fooling around for fun while I'm playing indoor volleyball. 

The Gator dig is volleyball dig pass best used when you've moved to where you think an opposing team's hitter is going to attack the ball and once you get to that spot and stop moving you sink your hips and put the heels of your hands together or the sides of your hands together while extending your arms so that on contact "the mouth of the hands" will guide a playable ball back into the air.

The Flipper is volleyball dig pass terminology describing how to dig a ball with the back of your hand

flipper purple shirt black print

I personally love the flipper dig because I have really long arms so if I think I may carry or lift a ball that's a little more than a step away from me then I'll turn my hand over and dig a ball with the back of my hand by flicking my wrist up to contact the ball flipping it back up into the air either as a set for a teammate to hit over the net or as a defensive save getting the ball as high in the air as possible so someone else can step in to better the ball in order to continue the play. 

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. 

What I think is fun about the flipper dig is that you can wait until the ball is pretty low to play it.

For some balls a digger has to react to play them when they're still above the waist. But knowing that a ball is coming fast at you and you have the option to flip it in the air then you can let that ball get as low as your kneecaps before you slide the back of your hand underneath the ball to flip it back up into the air. 

The Volleyball Dig Pass: The Pancake Terminology Used For An Emergency Digging Technique Liberos Use 

The pancake dig is used as the last possible option a digger has to keep the ball off the floor by placing their hand on the floor in the exact spot where the ball is going to land so that the ball hits their hand and bounces back into the air before it hits the floor and bounces back up into the air. 

By preventing the ball from touching the floor the libero/digger/backcourt specialist has used one of the three allowed contacts each team is allowed to continue to play the ball and get it over the net during a rally. 

The Volleyball Dig Pass: 5 Types of Digs When Digging Hard Hits: The J Stroke

Primarily used in guys volleyball because they hit harder the digger has a defensive starting position with their arms shaped like a J as if they're getting ready to scoop up a package with both arms from the floor. 

While watching the opposing hitters arm swing the digger will extend their arms towards the hard attacked hit so they extend the palms of their hands that're turned up towards the ceiling under the ball keeping their arms in the shape of the letter J (or the letter c depending on how you want to describe the shape) and their hands and arms apart while digging or scooping the ball up before it hits the floor.

This is different than the traditional dig where you're taught to keep both hands and arms together to form a straight armed platform to use to dig the ball back up into the air. 

The Volleyball Dig Pass: 5 Types of Digs For Passing A Ball In Defense: The Shank

A shank is actually a digging or passing error so its something you do not want to do in defense or serve receive. 

You know what happens when you're digging a ball and you think its coming at you pretty easily so instead of keeping your hips low and underneath the oncoming ball you rise up out of your squat and at the same time this action brings your platform digging arms up to a higher position too?

This is usually all it takes to shank a ball meaning the ball skips off your arms 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. 

That my friend is a digging error and goes down in the stat books as your defensive error, the other team gets rewarded a point and the right to serve...because they were able to sideout because of your error. 




J Stroke


Volleyball Dig Pass 
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