The Volleyball Dig: What Is It, When To Do It and How To Dig A Ball

The volleyball dig or digging a volleyball up in defense means that you are able to keep an attacked ball by the opposing team off your court floor. 


To dig a volleyball or by digging a volleyball up in defense you are keeping an attacked ball by the opposing team off your court floor.

This keeps them from scoring a point, while at the same time you are setting your team up to run an offensive counterattack against them so your team can try to score a point. 


The Volleyball Dig
What does 'dig a volleyball' mean? 


To dig a volleyball means you contact and intercept the ball, while your team is on defense by deflecting it up in the air with your arms held together.  

You defend, or dig the ball to keep it off your team's court floor once it crosses into your court after an attack hit by the opposing team, so they don't score a point .

There are offensive ways to contact the ball and there are defensive ways to contact the ball. 

The 'pass', the 'set', the 'serve' and the 'hit' describe offensive ways to contact the ball. These are terms that describe ways you contact the ball to set it up for an attack hit into the other team's court.

The "block" and "the dig" are defensive terms used to describe ways to contact the ball. You 'block' or  'dig a volleyball' when you need to defend your court from the other team's attack.


The Volleyball Dig
When Do You Dig A Ball?


In a rally, after a team serves, the serving team is on defense and the team who is receiving the serve is on offense. 

The team on defense has three blockers in the front row who will try and stop the opposing team's attack hit at the net by blocking the ball before it comes over the net.

If the blockers can't block it then the three players on defense in the back row, also called 'diggers' or 'defensive players', will use their defensive skills to dig the ball up to keep it off the ground so the opposing team can't score  a point. 


The dig is the second and last line of defense for a team to try and keep an opposing team's attack hits from scoring points by keep the ball off the floor. (Ralph Aversen)The dig is the second and last line of defense for a team to try and keep an opposing team's attack hits from scoring points by keep the ball off the floor. (Ralph Aversen)


On defense, the block is the first line of defense for a team and the dig is the second and last line of defense for a team to try and keep an opposing team's attack hits from scoring points by keep the ball off the floor. 

When your team blocks, you are defending your court at the net, and if the ball gets by the block, then your back row players. also known as 'diggers', defend your court by digging the ball up into the air so it doesn't hit the floor.  

The minute your team digs a volleyball up and the ball stays on your side your team changes or "transitions" from being a team on defense to becoming a team on offense. 



Your team keeps the opposing team's attack off your floor, but you've also set your team up to run an offensive attack sending the ball into the opposing team's court.

Now its their  turn to try and block your team or dig a volleyball up that you or your attackers send into their court to try and score a point. 


The Volleyball Dig
How To Dig A Ball

The dig is the second and last line of defense for a team to try and keep an opposing team's attack hits from scoring points by keep the ball off the floor. (Michael E, Johnston)The dig is the second and last line of defense for a team to try and keep an opposing team's attack hits from scoring points by keep the ball off the floor. (Michael E, Johnston)


The Volleyball Dig Ready Position

  • In the backrow you should be in an athletic stance with knees slightly bent, leaning slightly forward so your shoulders are in front of your knees with hands and arms extended in front of you 3-4 inches in front of your knees
To dig a ball, keep your hands apart so you can run, shuffle step or move quickly to the ball once you know where the ball is going to possibly land (Matt Pendleton)To dig a ball, keep your hands apart so you can run, shuffle step or move quickly to the ball once you know where the ball is going to possibly land (Matt Pendleton)
  • To dig a ball, keep your hands apart so you can run, shuffle step or move quickly to the ball once you know where the ball is going to possibly land
  • Quickly clasp hands together using the same hand grip as you do when you pass...one fist placed inside the palm of the other hand, both thumbs side by side together then pointed towards the ground



  • During the dig keep thumbs pointed to the floor which keeps your arms straight and creates a nice flat platform which you use to dig the ball up into the air
  • Before contacting the ball your hips have to be below the level of the oncoming ball.  This is what helps lift the ball up into the air and increases the chances of it staying on your side.  


  • When contacting the ball, do not swing your arms to meet the ball. The attack hit is hard enough and you don't need to add additional movement to get the ball up.




With practice reps and plenty of volleyball defensive drills you will learn how to use your arms so they absorb the impact of hard hit balls.



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

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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. 


How To Play Volleyball: 
Where Do You Go Now?


Okay here's where you need to go now! There are three options: 

  1. Learn more about Digging and Defense by clicking 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 Miss O.I Gotchu the Octopus wearing the #8 jersey below.  Miss O.I. is the libero for the All Beast VolleyBragSwag All Star team.

You might like these pages about volleyball digging. 



  1. Improve Your Volleyball Performance with Vegas VB Coach April Chapple
  2.  ›
  3. How To Play Volleyball So That You Improve And Make Your Varsity Team
  4.  ›
  5. Three Volleyball Digging Tips To Improve Your Defense Volleyball Game
  6.  ›
  7. The Volleyball Dig: What Is It, When To Do It and How To Dig A Ball

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