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Volleyball jargon glossary

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This is a list of the more common English volleyball jargon terms:


General terms

  • An overhand digAce : A serve which lands in the receiving team's court without being touched by the receiving team, or one that is touched by only one member of the receiving team, and is not passed legally back over the net.
  • Cut / Cut shot : An attack with an extreme angle (nearly parallel to the net).
  • Dig : A defensive contact following an opponent's attack resulting in a playable ball.
  • Double contact / Double : A fault in which a player contacts the ball with two body parts consecutively.
  • D.S. : The abbreviation for "defensive specialist", a position player similar to the libero.
  • Dump :leap is A surprise attack usually executed by a front row setter to catch the defense off guard; many times executed with the left hand, sometimes with the right, aimed at the donut or area 4 on the court.
  • A joustFive-one : Six player offense where a single designated setter sets regardless of court position.
  • Free ball : A ball that is passed over the net because an attack wasn't possible.
  • Four-two : Six player offense where there are two designated setters and the front row setter sets.
  • Joust : when the ball is falling directly on top of the net, two opposing players jump and push against the ball, trying to push it onto the other's side.
  • Kill : A successful, legal, point-scoring spike attack.
  • Mis-hit : A hit in which a player swings but does not contact the ball as intended, giving it a different speed, direction, and spin than the player intended.
  • Pepper : A drill in which players hit a ball back and forth, without a net.
  • Seam : When serving, the spot between passers; when attacking, the spot between blockers.
  • Shank : When a player unintentionally passes a ball in a wild manner, rendering it unplayable to his or her teammates.
  • Shot : An offensive play in which a set ball, rather than being spiked hard, is directed to an open area of the court.
  • Side out : When the team that served the ball loses the rally, causing the other team to serve the next point.
  • Six-two : Six player offense where there are two designated setters and the back row setter sets. Called six-two because there are two setters and six other players (2 outsides, two middle hitters, and two right-side hitters)
  • Spike : When an offensive player attacks the ball with a one-arm motion done over the head, attempting to get a kill.
  • Strong side : The left side of the court, so-called because it is usually the easier side to right-handed players to attack from.
  • Weak side : The right side of the court, so-called because it is generally easier for right-handed players to attack from the left ('strong') side. Also known as the Opposite side.

Types of sets

  • A high school player hitting a "Quick" at 2007 Best of the West InvitationalA : A back row set aimed at the left side of the court. Also could be a quick set to the middle.
  • Back-Two: A ball set relatively high and to the middle or to the right side hitter, directly behind the setter.
  • Back-One: A ball set relatively low (or quick) to the middle hitter or to the right side hitter, directly behind the setter.
  • Bick : Similar to the "pipe", but set very low
  • C / D : A back row set aimed at the right side of the court.
  • Chaos: An outside in which the middle runs a one, the outside comes for a two off the middle's shoulder, and the wearkside runs around the back to hit an outside 3.
  • Dick: Similar to the "Bick", But for the right side of the court(D ball).
  • Five / Back : Same as a four set, but to the weak-side.
  • Four : A high set to the outside hitter.
  • Hut / Loop : A lower set to the outsider hitter. Higher than a shoot.
  • One / Quick : A type of middle hit when the middle jumps before the setter sets, with the ball being set directly to the middle hitter's hand.
  • Pipe : A ball set toward the middle of the court for a back-row attack.
  • Shocker: A attack in which the Middle runs a one, the Opposite comes for a two off the middle's shoulder, and the Outside runs/slides around to hit a back-two.
  • Shoot : A variation on the quick set except instead of setting the ball to the middle the ball is set to the outside hitter.
  • Slide : An attack where the hitter fakes a quick-set (one) approach with his/her first step and subsequently chases the ball behind the setter and parallel to the net, jumps off one foot and hits the ball close to the antenna on the weak-side.
  • Ten : A ball set for a back row attack.
  • Three / Thirty-Three : A quick lower set to the outside.
  • Thirty-Two: An attack where the hitter fakes a quick-set (one) approach with his/her first step and subsequently chases the ball in front of the setter and parallel to the net, jumps off one foot and hits the ball in the outside 3 position. Generally used as adapted version of the Slide for left-handed hitters.
  • Two : A ball set to the middle hitter. Also, a "back two" is the same set set behind the setter.
  • Cross (X) : A play in which the middle hitter jumps for a one, and the weak-side hitter, having moved to the middle of the court, takes an approach for a two at the same location.
  • Thirty One / Inside Shoot : A play in which the middle hitter runs a one ball 5 to 10 feet away from the setter.
  • Stack / Tandem : Similar to the "cross" but the outside hitter hits the two ball.
  • Thirty Stack : A play in which the middle hitter runs a Thirty One and the Outside Hitter runs a Thirty Two

Methods of contacting the ball

  • A player "tips" the ball overBeach dig : A dig made using both hands and fingers to surround the ball, squeeze and actually slightly lift the ball. Allowed when defending against a hard hit on the beach.
  • Bump : Similar in motion to a pass, but used to set a ball for an attack.
  • Chicken wing : When a defending player is forced to react very quickly to a ball coming at their upper torso, the player may lift a bent arm in the shape of a chicken wing to dig the ball.
  • Cobra : With the fingers extended straight and stiff, the ball is poked with the fingertips.
  • Dump: When on second contact the ball is purposely returned over the net instead of set to a hitter, which may result in a kill when the defense in unaware. Usually enacted by the setter.
  • Flipper : A reaching contact made with the outstretched back of the hand in a flipping motion. Popularized by beach player Andy Fishburn.
  • Floater/Float : A non-spinning serve that is unpredictable because its path is perturbed by air currents above the court, similar to a knuckleball in baseball.
  • Gator : A defensive digging technique used on the beach in the defense of a hard hit ball. The hands are formed into the shape of 2 gator jaws (the left hand on top and the right hand on bottom). The maneuver involves digging the ball with the bottom right hand and then directing it with the upper left hand.
  • Jump float : A jumping float server.
  • Jump serve / Jumper : a serve made famous by Karch Kiraly; the serving player tosses the ball in the air and into the court, then uses an attack approach to jump and serve the ball.
  • Kong : A one-handed block, usually because the blocker is late. Initially popularized by Randy Stoklos.
  • Pancake : When a player digs the ball by extending his or her hand flat on the floor, bouncing the ball off the back of the hand.
  • Pokey / Camel toe : A ball contacted with the knuckles especially on the beach.
  • Roll Shot : An attacker hits the set softly putting extreme topspin on the ball so that it will clear the block and drop quickly and directly over the block.
  • Sprawl : A type of dig in which the player does not dive forward, but rather places his hands on the ground and pushes his body forward and down. Similar to diving for a ball, but not actually leaving the ground.
  • Sky ball : A unique underhand serve in which the ball is shot unusually high into the air above the oppossing team's court in the attempt to confuse the receiver.
  • Thunder: A spike or attack that requires a lot of force from the arm, and a very high jump. The ball is hit steeply downwards from the point of contact, and is very difficult to receive.
  • Tip : A softer or off-speed finesse attack, usually committed with more of the fingers and fingertips than the whole hand as used in an attack.
  • Wipe / Swipe : When one player pushes the ball against the opponents block and physically wipes the ball out of bounds. Similar to a tool.

Slang terms

  • A hitter gets "roofed" by the blockersBang/ Bounce / Thump: A ball spiked very hard with a steep downward angle. A hit that lands inside the 10 foot line.
  • Beer: When an attacked ball goes through a defenders legs. After being "Beered" the defender then owes the attacker a beer.
  • Butter / Nectar / Sauce : A perfect set.
  • Deep Dish/Chicago style pizza : An illegal set that is held excessively long, typically set from below the shoulders and seen in beach volleyball.
  • Dime : A perfect pass.
  • Facial / Six-Pack / Tattoo : When a defending player gets hit in the face with the ball either from an attack by the opposing team or by a deflection off the block. The term "six-pack" refers to the dizzying sensation of being hit directly in the head or face by a volleyball as being analogous to the dizzying sensation of having drunk a six pack of beer. It may also possibly refer to a tradition where the player hit by the spike must buy the hitter a six-pack (usually of beer) or because the abdominal muscles are sometimes referred to as a "six-pack", so getting hit in the stomach by the ball is getting 'six-packed'. The term "tattoo" refers to marks left on the skin of the hit player by the seams/lettering on the ball.
  • Fishing: Making illegal contact with the net.
  • Hands : Hand setting. Someone with "nice hands" sets well.
  • Heat : Speed. Used to describe a hard-hit ball.
  • House / Stuff / Roof : When the defensive player blocks a ball so hard that it is immediately returned to the hitter and goes straight to the floor.
  • Hubby-wife : In beach volleyball, when a serve drops between two players because the players don't decide in time who will pass it.
  • Jungleball / Barbecue ball / Picnic ball : A volleyball game played by inexperienced players with little ball control.
  • Nail : A perfect pass.
  • Paintbrush / Whiff : A mishit — when a player attempts to hit (or spike) the ball with the open hand and nearly misses the ball, only contacting the ball with his/her fingers resulting in a backspin on the ball.
  • Popcorn setting/Sprinkler : When an unskilled setter is sending sets in a random pattern (like popcorn being popped, or like a water sprinkler on the grass).
  • Rainbow : A shot especially on the beach that is hit over the head of the defender to the far corner and lands cleanly. Also known as a Jumbo Shrimp (due to the arc/shape of the shot).
  • Scrappy : Referring to a team that doesent let a single ball hit the ground without much effort. (used positively)
  • Shag : Picking up and collecting scattered volleyballs.
  • Spalding: when the hitters hit the ball and it hits the opposing defensive team in the face or on their body. Spalding refers to the letters of the ball staying on the players face because it hit them so hard.
  • Tool / Use : An attack which is deflected off an opponent (usually during a block) and is unplayable resulting in a point for the attacking team.
  • Trap : A ball set too close to the net where the hitter typically gets stuffed.
  • Vegas Line: A kill resulting from a powerful hard-line spike that penetrates or beats the opponents' line block. So-named after Sean Rosenthal, a member of the AVP delivered such a memorable kill in Las Vegas, 2005.

See all sports glossaries:

Published - January 2009

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