4 Digging Volleyball Terms Explained For Liberos and Defensive Players

The four digging volleyball terms explained for liberos and defensive players are "up" "tagged" "touch" and "lip" which describes what happens in the backrow. 


These four types of digging volleyball terms explained describe various ways to keep the ball off the floor.

Digging volleyball spikes and keeping the ball from hitting the court floor is a large part of the  job description for liberos, defensive specialists and six rotation players who have to play defense in the back court.



Learning these four defensive terms will help players in these positions do there jobs even better. 


Digging Volleyball Terms Explained: 
What's a "lip"?


Lipping a ball is a strong impressive volleyball dig used to keep the ball off the floor. 

Most commonly "dig lips" or "digging lips" refers to a defensive player who digs a hard hitter more than once in the same play. 

Some players who want to compliment a teammate who's digging well say that player is Some players who want to compliment a teammate who's digging well say that player is "digging lips".

To "lip" a ball is a slang term pure and simple. "Wow, you lipped that ball!"

This phrase has a couple of interpretations depending on who you ask.

If you have a teammate that tells you "Nice lips" that means you made back-to-back amazing digs in a rally after an opposing hitter ripped a ball.

Some players who want to compliment a teammate who's digging well say that player is "digging lips".

What they mean is that player is digging so well that it seems like the opposing team's hitter has "told them" where  they were going to hit the ball, before they hit it, so  the digger "read the lips" or read the body language of where the hitter supposedly said or indicated where they were going to hit.

In this case, the digger's ability to "read the lips" of the hitter calls for the use of this "diggin' lips" slang term.

Because of their awesome defense ability to know or read where the ball was going to be hit, before the ball was hit and to be in the right place at the right time. 

The third interpretation for the "diggin' lips" term comes from the shape the arms are in when they are placed together to form the platform that's used to dig a volleyball with.

This comes into play, especially when a player has to dig a ball that's over their head.

Just try something, if you form a platform with your arms, the same one you use to pass a ball or dig a volleyball with, then if you look in the mirror at that the reflection of your arms.

From a side angle if your platform is slightly turned as if you were passing a ball to your side, your arms form the loose shape of a pair of lips.  

You'll see what I mean when you check out the two volleyball images below.  

Tilt your head to the right or left when you look at the picture below and you'll see that the arms of the Oral Roberts player (no pun intended) who's about to finish in the bleachers are shaped like a pair of lips..go figure...



Yeah, its a slight stretch of the imagination, but there you go..


Digging Volleyball Terms Explained:
What is an "up"?


A "nice up!" is a great defensive save or dig. 

It's in the same category of phrases or terms describing an incredible volleyball dig,  like the term "nice lip" is.

This is what players say when a teammate has been digging volleyball spikes all match has made an incredibly unbelievable dig. 



An "up" comes as a result of a player who is continuously digging volleyball hits, tips and attacks that stay off the floor.

When she digs a playable ball she has dug the ball "up." 

Regardless of whether you have to dive, roll, extend, sprawl or just stand in place to make great defensive saves, a nice "up" means you kept the  ball from hitting your court floor. 


Digging Volleyball Terms Explained 
What does "tagged" mean?


When a ball "tags" a player it means that they couldn’t get out of the way of a hard hit ball which touched him or her before it landed out of bounds.



One of the most common ways you can get tagged is when you watch the action from the back row in a high stance instead of staying in a very low stance in defense.

This doesn't give you the readiness to move quickly in any direction to retrieve a ball in defense. 

If a player from the opposing team hits a ball right at you and and the ball touches your body  before you have a chance to dig or make a playable ball then you were "tagged" by the ball.

The ball "touched" you before it travelled out of bounds. 


Digging Volleyball Terms Explained
What is a "touch"?


A "touch" is when a player contacts the ball. 

An example of a  "touch" happens when a player on a team on defense is the last person to voluntarily or involuntarily touch the ball while on defense or while blocking, before it goes out of bounds.

Let's say a hitter who is trying to use the block or is trying to wipe the ball off of the block, will purposefully aim their hit at the outside hand of the blocker that's closest to the antenna.



This is a strategic move by the hitter, who's attempting to keep the blocker from blocking the ball but is hitting the ball in a way that the blocker "touches" the ball as it travels out of bounds, making the blocker the last player to make contact with the ball.

If the hitter in the picture below hits the ball so that it "touches" #15's left hand and continues out of bounds without anyone else touching it, then that point and the ball goes to Michigan (the hitter's) team because the Central Michigan blocker was the last player to touch the ball before it landed out.



This hitting action will result in an easy point for the attacking team.




Good times!
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  1. Learn more about the volleyball words, terms and terminology in the Related Links below.  
  2. Follow the suggested reading on our Sitemap page  Learning How To Play (Sitemap)
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Read more about volleyball vocabulary, jargon and terms on these pages. 


  1. Improve Your Volleyball Performance with Vegas VB Coach April Chapple
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  3. What's This Volleyball Word? Basic Terms, Slang and Volleyball Lingo
  4. Four Digging Volleyball Terms Backrow Players On Defense Need To Know

Photo Credits

"Double Dig"by acase1968 is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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