14 Volleyball Hitting Terms That Explore The Spike, Attack and Hit

By familiarizing yourself with these 14 volleyball hitting terms and attack techniques you'll learn the attack skills and the offensive game much faster.

By familiarizing yourself with these 14 volleyball hitting terms and attack techniques you'll learn the attack skills and the offensive game much faster. 

americanathleticconfhouostoncougarsspikerwithcoverage photobymichaelejohnston)By familiarizing yourself with these 14 volleyball hitting terms and attack techniques you'll learn the attack skills and the offensive game much faster. (photobymichaelejohnston)


Understanding the various volleyball hitting terms is essential for players and fans of the sport.

In this article, I talk about 14 different types of spiking, attacking, and hitting techniques that players employ to score points and outwit their opponents.


In this article, I talk about 14 different types of spiking, attacking, and hitting techniques that players employ to score points and outwit their opponents.

Former Texas Longhorn Lexi Sun reaches high to spike in volleyball against Kansas State. (Aversen)In this article, I talk about 14 different types of spiking, attacking, and hitting techniques that players employ to score points and outwit their opponents. Former Texas Longhorn Lexi Sun reaches high to spike in volleyball against Kansas State. (Aversen)


By familiarizing yourself with these terms, you'll be able to appreciate the intricacies of the game and better analyze the action on the court.

To better understand how to do these types of volleyball hits hitters who attack the ball in matches first need to learn these terms ...


Spike Approach


Spike Approach 

The spike approach is the pattern or series of steps and/or strides a player uses to elevate themselves into the air so they can spike a ball over the net. 

The spike approach will vary in speed and in length according to the set a player receives. 

The spike approach can be compared to an airplane's pre-flight takeoff because it needs to travel a certain distance forward in order to gain the momentum needed for it to lift itself up off of the ground.


Volleyball Hit

To hit a volleyball requires a player to take a spike approach as described above followed by an arm swing that is used to bring the player's hand above their head to make contact with the ball so that it clears the net and finishes in the opposing team's court. (Aversen)To hit a volleyball requires a player to take a spike approach as described above followed by an arm swing that is used to bring the player's hand above their head to make contact with the ball so that it clears the net and finishes in the opposing team's court.


Volleyball Hit

To hit a volleyball requires a player to take a spike approach as described above followed by an arm swing that is used to bring the player's hand above their head to make contact with the ball so that it clears the net and finishes in the opposing team's court.

Of the three attempts a team has, to get the ball into the opposing team's court, the spike is most often attempted on the third contact.



Volleyball Spike


Volleyball Spike 

To spike a ball a player takes a spike approach then uses an arm swing to contact the ball in the air to propel it over the net into the opposing court. 



Volleyball Hitting Terms
The Attack


- The Attack 

An attack is the offensive team's attempt to get the ball into the opposing team's court by either spiking the ball, tipping or dumping or using an off speed hit.


Volleyball Hitting Terms
The Kill




The Kill 

A kill happens when a player successfully hits or spikes, tips or attacks the ball onto the opposing team's court floor.

A kill is registered when a player has scored a point or a sideout by successfully attacking or hitting the ball onto the opposing team's court floor within their court lines and boundaries.


Volleyball Hitting Terms
1. The Wipe


The Wipe

The wipe describes a technique in which a spiker intentionally aims for an opposing blocker's outside hand.




By hitting the ball off the blocker's hand, the spiker causes the ball to travel out of bounds, resulting in a point for their team.

This technique requires precision and careful aim.


Volleyball Hitting Terms
2. The Tool




The Tool

Similar to the wipe, tooling the block involves deliberately hitting the ball off the outer hand of the blocker.

The goal is to deflect the ball back towards the opponent's court, but outside the sideline.

By doing so, it becomes challenging for the defensive players to react and counter the attack, increasing the chances of scoring a point.


Volleyball Hitting Terms
3. The Tip

The tip is an alternative to a hard hit and becomes an effective option when the spiker wants to finesse the ball over the block.

(pac12stanfordhittertippingbehindtheblockbymichaelejohnston.jpg)The tip is an alternative to a hard hit and becomes an effective option when the spiker wants to finesse the ball over the block. (photobymichaelejohnston.jpg)


The Tip


The tip is an alternative to a hard hit and becomes an effective option when the spiker wants to finesse the ball over the block.

During the spike approach and at the peak of the spike jump, the hitter uses the tips of their fingers to gently guide the ball over the blockers' hands and onto the opposing court.


Volleyball Hitting Terms
4. The Cobra


The Cobra

Commonly seen in beach volleyball, the cobra is a technique where the spiker uses a straight hand with the palm facing downwards to contact the ball with their fingertips.

This maneuver allows the player to achieve more control over the ball and execute precise shots.


Volleyball Hitting Terms
5. The Pokey

Especially popular in beach volleyball, the pokey involves using a closed fist with the knuckles of the index and middle fingers to make contact with the ball to push it over the block and into the opposing team's court. 

(beachvolleyballblockshitterpokeyralphaversenguy)Especially popular in beach volleyball, the pokey involves using a closed fist with the knuckles of the index and middle fingers to make contact with the ball to push it over the block and into the opposing team's court. (beachvolleyballblockshitterpokeyralphaversenguy)


The Pokey

Especially popular in beach volleyball, the pokey involves using a closed fist with the knuckles of the index and middle fingers to make contact with the ball to push it over the block and into the opposing team's court. 

This technique is useful when the ball is set too close to the net or when the opposing blocker's hands obstruct a traditional spike.


Volleyball Hitting Terms
6. Down Ball


Down Ball

When a player doesn't have enough time to perform a spike approach, they resort to a down ball attack.

This involves spiking the ball over the net without jumping.

A down ball attack can be the result of miscommunication between a hitter and the setter during gameplay or a quick decision not to jump on the court.


Volleyball Hitting Terms
7. Free Ball


Free Ball

A free ball occurs when a player forearm passes the ball to the opposing team's court instead of executing a spike.

This can happen when the team is unable to mount a strong attack.

The receiving team views a free ball as an opportunity to create a strategic play or set up their "go-to" spiker for an easy point.


Volleyball Hitting Terms
8. Seam


Seam

A seam refers to the opening or space created between the two blockers at the height of their block jump.

Smart hitters aim their spike for the seam so the ball can pass between the blocker's arms in order to exploit the space and score points.

By hitting the ball accurately through the seam, the attacker can surprise the defense and get the ball to the court floor in order to earn a valuable point.


Volleyball Hitting Terms
9. Cross Court Hit


Cross Court Hit

The cross court hit is a powerful attack where the hitter aims to hit the ball diagonally across the court from their own side to the opponent's side.

This strategy is effective in creating opportunities for scoring points by bypassing the blockers and placing the ball in hard-to-defend areas.


Volleyball Hitting Terms
10. Line Hit


Line Hit

The line hit is the opposite of the cross court hit, in which the hitter aims to send the ball straight down the line, parallel to the sideline.

This technique is often used to catch the defense playing in the right back side of the court, usually the setter, off guard once again to secure points by exploiting gaps in the block formation.


Volleyball Hitting Terms
11. Cut Shot


Cut Shot

A cut shot is a skillful attack in which the hitter intentionally sends the ball diagonally across the net, dropping it just over the blockers and into the corner of the opponent's court.

This technique requires precision and finesse to deceive the block and the defense to earn points.


Volleyball Hitting Terms
12. Power Tip


Power Tip

The power tip is a deceptive move in which the hitter appears to set up for a powerful spike but instead executes a soft tip over the blockers' hands and into empty space on the opponent's court.

This unexpected change of pace catches the defense off guard and often results in a successful point.


Volleyball Hitting Terms
13. Roll Shot




Roll Shot

A roll shot involves a controlled hit where the hitter contacts the ball with their open hand and uses a rolling motion to float the ball over the blockers and into the desired spot on the opposing court.

This technique is useful when the defense is anticipating a hard spike and can create scoring opportunities by exploiting areas left undefended.


Volleyball Hitting Terms
14. Pipe Attack

BYU's opposite hitter, Vegas native and one of my long time clients Kate Prior works on her backrow attack during Breakfast Club practices.


Pipe Attack

The pipe attack is a backrow attack taken by a backrow hitter who

  • starts their spike approach in the backcourt 
  • from behind the ten foot line and 
  • jumps to spike the ball taking off from behind the ten foot line and 
  • can land in front of it making the hit look like a part of the front row offense. 

This technique adds versatility and variety to a team's front row offensive options in order to add to a team's attack options can catch the opposing defense off guard.

By familiarizing yourself with these volleyball hitting terms, you can better appreciate the skill and strategy that goes into executing successful attacks on the volleyball court.

Utilize this knowledge to analyze and enjoy the sport, whether you are a player, coach, or spectator.

Stay tuned for more articles exploring the world of volleyball and its exciting techniques.


Volleyball Hitting Terms 
Where Do You Go From Here? 


Where do you need to go now? Here are three options: 

  1. Learn more about Volleyball Words and Terminology by checking the links in Related Links section.
  2. Follow the suggested reading on our Sitemap page Volleyball Word (Sitemap)
  3. Or visit the pages in the How To Play Volleyball section in the drop down menu at the top of the page.

You might like these pages about more important volleyball terms. 



  • Improve Your Volleyball Performance with Private Volleyball Coach April Chapple
  • Words Used In Volleyball: Basic Terms, Slang, Phrases, Jargon, Lingo
  • 14 Volleyball Hitting Terms That Explore The Spike, Attack and Hit



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