How To Spike A Volleyball Correctly: First Learn These Terms

Published: 18th June 2010
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Hitting a volleyball is the most fun part of the game. In this article I explain several hitting terms like tool, wipe, down ball and free ball.

tool - "Tool" the block is another way of saying "use the block" which happens when a hitter aims the ball during a hit or a tip towards the outer hand of a blocker so when it intentionally hits the block it is deflected outside of the court.

wipe - To "wipe the block" is the same as "tool the block." Savvy outside hitters, (many times the shorter ones) learn how to wipe the ball in such a way that it looks like they are intentionally going to hit the ball out of bounds, but what they are really doing are positioning themselves so that when they hit the ball into the blockers hands, the ball will bounce back outside of the sidelines, scoring their team a point or a sideout.

down ball - A down ball is an attack made by a player who spikes or hits the ball keeping both of their feet on the floor and uses the traditional armswing to get a hard driven ball into the opposing team's court. A down ball can be initiated during any of the three contacts a team is allotted to get the ball back into the opposing team's court. For example, although rarely seen in indoor volleyball a beach volleyball player can hit an easy serve back into the serving team's court by attacking with a down ball.

A player usually chooses to hit a down ball because for some reason they don't have time to make a spike approach before hitting the ball. When team B's blocker's see that Team A's spiker isn't using a spike approach to hit the ball over the net, the blockers usually call out to their team "down ball" and transition off the net to get ready to attack.

A "down ball" has been translated to mean that a hitter is "staying down on the ground" or is "keeping her feet on the ground" to hit or spike a ball.

free ball - A free ball is a ball that Team A has forearm passed easily into Team B's court. This is an easy or free ball that should be considered a 'gift" since the team didn't attack with a hard driven ball, a tip or a deceptive off speed shot aimed for an open space on the opposing team's court. When Team A gives Team B a free ball it's usually because there's a miscommunication between players, whether its between passers and hitters or more likely between setters and hitters.

When Team B receives a free ball they should do everything in their power to make a perfect pass in order to run a fast attack or get the ball to their go-to player who will definitely score a point since they didn't have to work hard to get an easy ball from Team A.


And now check these news stories on college outside hitters and sign up for free video instruction from Olympic gold medalists on how to improve your volleyball hitting.

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