DGP Volleyball Page

Mail changes or corrections to: Joe Laszlo at jflaszlo@dgp.toronto.edu


  • Fun/Practice Schedule

  • GSU League Graphic Violets Team Page

  • Basic Volleyball Strategy & Tips

  • Some Interesting Volleyball Sites/Resources

  • Some Local Volleyball Events

  • A Note About Injuries

  • DGP people and friends get together to play volleyball for practice and fun during the week. Skill is not necessary (but is allowed :-).

    We also field a team (DGP Graphic Violets) in the intermediate division of the GSU (Graduate Student Union) League this year. We aren't accepting any more players, but if you're interested in more advanced volleyball than the DGP "jungleball" days, you may be able to practice with the team. Contact the organizer, Joe Laszlo, for more information.

    Some Interesting Volleyball Sites/Resources

  • U. of T. GSU league info

  • Schneid's Volleyball Page (strategies & drills with diagrams + exercise, nutrition & sports med.)

  • Volleyball Worldwide

  • Mark Thiessen's Volleyball Portfolio (Pro-beach pictures)

  • Rolly's Volleyball Homepage (fundamental skills descriptions)

  • Jump Training and Plyometrics sites

  • Links to many vball-related sites

  • VerticalLeap.com's favorite links

  • rec.sport.volleyball newsgroup

  • DGP Volleyball Schedule

    Month Day Time Purpose
    Feb, 99 Tues. 5-6pm games
    Feb, 99 Fri. 5-7+pm games

    (Very) Basic Volleyball Strategy & Tips

    Level of Play
    Receiving Serve
    Typical Play
    First hit
    Second hit
    Third hit
    Other hints/tips
    Some ball handling violations

    Level of Play

    The descriptions to follow are for a very basic level of play. At virtually all higher levels, players specialize at particular tasks (e.g. setting) rather than using court position to determine the player's roles as indicated below. There are a number of basic strategies that employ such specialization to various degrees. For more information on these more intermediate and advanced configurations, see the other volleyball sites listed below.

    Receiving serve
    The following is a reasonable position to take when receiving serve:
      server --> x                                \
                      x    x                       |
                                                   | serving team   
                 x    x    x                      /
                      5         <--setter         \             
                 4    2    6                       | receiving team  
                   3     1                        /       
         5 - front/centre person (the "setter") moves up close to the net and
             waits.  Short balls to the centre are 2's responsibility, not
             5's.  If 5 takes the serve, then someone else must be the setter.
         2 - back centre person covers the forward centre court area including
             short shots that just make it over the net.
       1+3 - outside back row players cover the back court both the side and
             behind the centre person if they can't hit it (because they've moved
       4+6 - outside front row players (4) cover from the sides to the centre and
             up to the net.
       ** Don't forget to call the ball!
    Attacking (right-side attack)
                   x    x    x
                   x        xx
                         5  o6                    \
                     4     2                       |
                                                   | attacking team
                       3    1                      |
         6 - attacker (4 for left-side attack)
         2 - back centre person covers the forward centre court area toward
             attacker in case the blockers successfully return the ball
         5 - front/centre person (setter) moves slightly back from net and
             covers for the block
     4+3+1 - front outside (non-attack side), back outside (non-attack side)
             and back outside (attack side) cover further back in court for
             a deep or tipped block
         For left side attack formation is symmetric.
    Defending (attack from right)
                   x    x    x
                    x    x    ox
                           56                     \
                  4      2                         |
                                                   | defending side
                   3       1                       |
       5+6 - middle front and middle right (left for attack from left side)
             should block.  Block the diagonal primarily since attacking down
             the line is more difficult (shorter court).
         2 - back centre person covers the forward centre court area toward
             attacker (and blockers) to cover the tip
     4+3+1 - front outside (non-attack side), back outside (non-attack side)
             and back outside (attack side) cover the back court for dinks or
             solid attacks
         For attack from left side formation is symmetric.
    Typical Play (non-specialized positions)
      All three hits are used.
        first hit:  "pass"/bump to the "setter"
                    (person in front row center at net)
        second hit: Setter "sets" to left or right side (ideally calling the
                    side or person's name) so the front left or right player
                    can attack.  Whenever possible, the _setter_ should play
                    the second hit (and yell help when he/she can't get to it).
        third hit:  attack (spike tip or volley) or recover/save (when the first
                    or second hit is poor)
        blocking:   blocking the opponent's attack (usually done on a spike) to
                    put the ball back down into their court   
    First hit
         Object: To control ball and put it nice and high (to give setter and
                 others time) a few feet back from the net (to avoid going over
                 and for an easier set).
                 Probably the most important basic shot since if you can't
                 bring the ball under control, everyone ends up having to try
                 to save it to stay alive and you never get to "attack" to
                 regain serve or earn a point.
         Hints - call the ball if it's not clearly yours (and maybe even if it is)
               - keep arms straight (to avoid hitting inaccurately)
               - hit with "fleshy" part of arm (arms turned "out" and closer
                 to the elbow than the wrist) to "dampen" ball
               - "push" it into the air with arm and legs rather than
                 "bouncing" it off bone which is far less predictable
               - bump high enough that the setter can volley it easily
                 (without lying on their back on the floor :-)
               - most important is to control it and get it generally toward
                 the front/centre of the court
    Second hit
             Normally the second hit is _always_ by the setter, so unless they
             absolutely can't get to it (in which case they should yell "help")
             you should just "back them up" (but give them as much room as
             If someone other than the setter gets the second hit, they should
             still MAKE AN ATTEMPT TO SET the ball to one of the attackers.
             In this case, be careful not to set too close to or over the net,
             which is a common error when setting toward (rather than parallel
             with) the net.
           Object:  To place the ball a few feet back from the net to the left or
                   right side to allow the player there to "attack" (with a spike,
                   tip or even a volley).
           Hints - call it and move quickly to get under the ball to volley
                 - always use a volley when possible rather than a bump  
                   because with practice, volleys are _much_ more precisely
                 - set the ball a few feet back from the net so that the person
                   has space, otherwise they'll often hit it into the net or have
                   to hit it straight up or take it off the net to get it over
               *** This is especially true for "attackers" who can't reach
                   net height since as the distance to the net decreases, the
                   upward angle necessary to hit ball over the net increases
                   dramatically, resulting in most balls close to the net going
                   into the net (or straight up to be hit down by blockers)
                 - set nice and _high_ to give the attacker(s) time to set up
    Third hit
             With a good set, use it to attack (spike/tip/volley) rather than
             just hitting it over easily.  People on both sides of the front row
             should be prepared to attack (i.e. to have the setter set to them),
             even if the setter is facing away, because they can always "back
             set" if they want.  With a poor set, "make sure" it gets over
             (either a bump or volley, though a volley is generally better if
             possible), preferably deep and relatively high to give your team
             time to get back to positions etc.  
        Object: To hit the ball with significant speed/force in order to hit
                the ground in the opponents court, to go out off the opposing
                team's block or to make their defense (bump to setter) more
                NOTE: Spikes must be brief hits, not long contacts with the
                      ball (which is usually either directing or carrying).
                      Hit the ball like you do when you serve it, _don't_ push
                      or throw it (illegal).
        Hints - if you don't already know how to spike, start by hitting it
                like a solid overhead serve (with the heel of your palm)
              - if you can't jump high enough to reach over the net, remember
                to hit it slightly upward (again like a serve)
              - try not to spike from too close to the net (you'll hit it or
                make it very easy for a blocker)
              - usually hit down the line or along the diagonal
              - if you often hit too long, go for the diagonal since there's
                more court (both lengthwise and widthwise) to hit into.
              - keep you eye on the ball
              - a good set makes all the difference
              - The net is basically the same height as the average ceiling
                (2.43 meters/8 feet) so if you can jump and touch your
                palm on a typical ceiling you can spike for real with
                enough practice.
        Object: To gently put the ball just over the blocker(s) or just over
                the net (usually with one hand but possibly two) where it will
                be hard to dig (bump).
                Used when the players behind the blocker(s) don't move up
                enough to cover their court or when you don't think you can
                spike through or around the blocker(s).
        Hints - hit quite softly and not too high (ideally just over the
                blocker(s) or net if there are no blockers)
              - should land close to net (behind blockers) so it is difficult
                to save
              - if someone is blocking you, consider a tip unless you spike
        Object: Place ball in a "hole" in court coverage.  Can be offensive
                (similar to tip but often deeper and lower) but usually
                defensive ("free ball" for other team)
              - carefully volley into a "hole", often deep into the opponent's
                court (if back row has moved up or toward the centre too much)
              - along a sideline (if everyone is too close to centre and/or
              - tight angle along net (if everyone is too far back)
              - any other (big) hole
              - low over net (without hitting it)
              - more firm than a tip to get the ball there quickly defensive
              - used when the set isn't very good   
              - getting it over is the most important thing
              - deep into court (and maybe to the sides?) to make their first
                hit a bump/pass (instead of a set)
              - high enough that it can't be blocked
       Object:  To stop a spiker from having an open court to hit into.
                Also to put pressure on the attacker (may cause a misshit into
                the net at our level) and possibly return the ball to their
                court before they have a chance to prepare for it.
                Finally, to slow down a spiked ball and give your team time
                and a better chance to recover it.
      Hints - jump up as high as you can fairly close to the net (closer than
              a spike) but without touching it
            - being too far back leads to the possibility of blocking
              the ball down onto your side of the net.
            - try to "follow" the ball with your hands (e.g. if you can
              see they're going to hit to your left, move your hands
            - if you are tall enough and/or can jump high enough, try to
              reach over the net and block the ball on the opponents side
              of the court to reduce the chance of deflecting it down into
              your own side.  This is legal as long as you contact the ball
              after (not during) the attacker's contact with the ball.
              (it is NOT legal to attack the ball on the opponents side though)
            - try to "aim" the ball down onto their side of the net and into
              their court (not "out" to the sidelines) by keeping the surface
              formed by both hands and arms pointed toward the centre of the
            - unless you're pretty confident, use tight, flat hands and keep
              fingers and thumbs in.  This is _not_ the case with good blocks
              (fingers are spread as much as possible to cover as large an area
              with both hands as possible) but I think it's safer and avoids
              finger/thumb injuries.
         ** - LEARN WHEN TO BLOCK AND WHEN NOT TO - blocking when it's not
              needed is bad since it leads to more sparse a hole in court
              coverage.  Only spikes should be blocked (ideally every spike).
              If the set is very bad (free ball) or you know the person can't
              spike (too short etc.) DON'T BLOCK so you're ready to dig for the
              tip.  Similarly, when playing against good players that spike well,
              you should try to block every spike.  The trick is to learn to
              watch and recognize when a spike isn't possible.
            - REMEMBER that after you touch the ball during blocking, you can
              still be the next person to hit it and there are three hits
              allowed _after_ the block
         ** - the timing for a block is basically the same as the timing for a
              spike (i.e. jump up at the same time you would if you were going
              to spike the ball) since spikes move pretty quickly (this depends
              on many factors though, such as the relative heights and maximum
              vertical jumps of the blocker and attacker)
    Other hints/tips
      **  0) COMMUNICATE - call the ball, make your intent clear (e.g. call
             someone's name when you set to them) and remind others to do the
             same.  Here are some particular points to communicate to others
             (as well as to keep in mind yourself):
                - watch for tips (when attacker may tip and there's a hole)
                - make sure to get ball over (either when it's not certain
                  it'll go over or to be safe on the last hit when it's not a
                  good attack)
                - "be ready" (for the ball to come back quickly off a block or
                   off the net)
                - it's still alive (the ball)
                - stop admiring good saves/attacks etc. when ball is still
                  in play
                - back to positions (when people don't return to positions
                  after the team's last hit)
                - "call it" (the ball)
                - serve it in
                - watch/cover the hole
         1) Get the service over the net (and preferably in the opponents court).
         2) If the ball is close to going over the net, "make sure" it goes
            over.  The best way to do this is to jump up and help it over since
            if it does come down on your side, it will likely hit the net,
            making it very difficult to save.  
     **  3) When on the third hit with a poor set (or any other hit where
            you're saving it and want to put it over) use a "safe" shot to
            make sure it goes over.  Many times, people could easily put it
            over, but try to make an agressive shot and end up putting it
            into the net, especially when bumping it over backwards.  There's
            nothing wrong with putting it over fairly high as long as you
            don't smash it hard into the lights. 
     **  4) When someone goes up to block, move up a little to cover the court
            behind them in case of a tip.  Also remember that you still have to
            cover your own position so don't move up _too_ far.  Move up
            slightly & be ready.  
         5) When a shallow ball goes between the back and front row, usually the
            back row person should hit it since it's easier to hit forward
            moving forward than to hit backward or moving backward.
         6) Spread out evenly to cover the court.  In general, try to maintain
            your position relative to other players while covering "holes" (big
            gaps) between players where the opposing team can place the ball for
            an easy point.  Let others cover holes that aren't adjacent to your
            own position.  Avoid clustering in one part of the court (usually at
            the front) since this also causes holes.  Make sure you're in
            position (as just described) _before_ the opponents hit the ball
            over the net, since otherwise it's often too late.
         7) Do your "job" and count on the other players to do their job.
            Rushing in to do it for them may save the ball, but will likely
            result in them playing their shots even less frequently for fear of
            getting in the way of other players and more lost points.  When
            players don't cover their position, try giving them _more_ room (by
            moving over) and suggest that they move over to cover the "hole"
            you make by doing this.
    Some ball handling violations
    (I'm not certain about these layman descriptions, so please correct them if
    you know they're wrong)
      I think "spiking" with two hands is often called either directing or maybe
      a double hit depending on how hard it's hit.  In any case, don't hit the
      ball over with two hands unless you're volleying or bumping.
      Spikes should be brief hits, not long contacts with the ball (which is
      usually either directing or carrying).  Also, in volleyball, you're NOT
      supposed to intentionally volley over the net in a direction
      NON-perpendicular to your shoulders (if it's done accidentally at the
      discression of the referee it's allowable).  That is, you can only volley
      over the net either forwards or backwards (at any angle from vertical).  If
      you want to put the ball over in another direction (to your left or right),
      move your feet and body so that your shoulders "point" in that direction.
      You ARE allowed to volley in any direction (to set the ball) as long as you
      don't intentionally put the ball over the net.  
      Using an open hand (or two) facing upward to push up on the ball (from
      underneath it) with your fingers pointing forward is called scooping.
      It's like bumping with open hands using your hands instead of your arms.
      The best way to avoid scooping is probably to bump properly instead.  Just
      straighten your arms (since most people bend their arms when they scoop)
      and hit with your arms instead of your hands.  If this is too hard, at
      least use closed fists rather than open hands.  In this case, it's best to
      make sure your hands are completely together to avoid the chance of being
      called for a double hit.
      Using the palm of your hand to volley is called palming.  You should only
      be fingertips when volleying.
      (I'm not sure what the real name for the fault is) I think any
      non-"instantaneous" contacts with the ball are called carrying or
      holding.  All contacts with the ball should be short in duration (similar
      to a service hit for example).

    Some Local Volleyball Events

    no current listings

    Injuries Be Evil

    Lest people take the issue of safety lightly when we're doing drills or playing, the following quotes taken from rec.sport.volleyball might make you think twice:

    Chip Dyer wrote:

    I recently spained my ankle - a GRADE 3 sprain - ie. I tore all the ligaments on the left side of my ankle. During warm-ups, somebody let a ball roll right under me while I was hitting, and I came down right on top of the ball, which rolled my foot 90 degrees inward - * OUCH * ! I had to move my foot back into place manually. Eric Carr wrote: Coming down after a kill, I landed on a ball that rolled onto our court from some people that were practicing next to us - didn't even yell "Ball!" (maybe they didn't get a chance). Full extension of the left knee coupled with slight turning and planting my foot after "snapping" off the side of the ball resulted in a completely severed anterior cruciate ligament, a torn medial collateral ligament, and severe damage to the meniscus cartilage. The joint bent what felt about 20 degrees opposite of normal flexing motion (someone on the sidelines said it looked extermely disorted), accompanied by 2 loud "pop"s and what sounded exactly like someone cracking their knuckles. Naturally I tried to tell myself I'd be okay, but when I got home the thing was very swollen and black and blue - something was definitely wrong that needed professional attention.

    Almost 6 1/2 hours of arthroscopic surgery was required to reconstruct the joint, using a graft from the patellar ligament to replace the ACL. 8 months of physical therapy followed; about six of them were 3 times a week for about 2 hour sessions each time.

    None of us needs an injury like one of these. Don't forget to shout a warning when a ball gets loose, call balls during play, and avoid net and centre-line violations (or even crossings) like the plague.

    Let's remember to play and practice safely!