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'How to Play' Volleyball!

Social Volleyball FAQ

(FAQ = Frequently Asked Questions)

written by Harvey A. Kong Tin

A document which tries to answer the most asked questions about Social Volleyball or an all round information text to inform you about what you should know about in Social Volleyball.

Emails are welcomed at - please put volleyball in the subject title.

The order of information is as follows:

General disclaimer

Brief History

Basics of the Sport
The Basic Techniques
Dig, Set and Spike
Tips for starting
Tips for practice (solo)
Practice (2 or more)

Other techniques
The Rules
The Volleyball
What Volleyball to buy / use
How to look after it

How to prevent injuries
How to treat injuries

Finger Injuries
About the Author

General disclaimer
This is not a text about competitive volleyball or a definative document. Any obvious errors will be corrected upon being informed thereof of any. This is a general guide in which I hope most of the information is correct. I aim to provide useful information for the novice or beginner in particular - that is the purpose of writing this document.

Brief History
1895 William G. Morgan, a YMCA instructor in Massachusetts, Boston,
          decided to create a less strenous non-contact sport using
          elements of basketball, baseball, tennis and handball into a sport called mintonette.
          He used a tennis net raised 6 feet 6 inches above the floor.
          Because of people describing the volleying of the ball across the net, the term volleyball came into use.
          On July 7, 1896 the first game of "volleyball" was played.
1900 A specific ball was created for use.
1916 In the Philippines the set and spike was introduced.
1917 The scoring changed from 21 to 15 points.
1920 3 hits per side and back row attack rules introduced.
1930 The first 2-man beach volleyball game was played.

Basics of the Sport
This document is not really about providing the basics of volleyball techniques - although I do list the techniques here. There are plenty of books in the city library about learning the basic techniques with step by step photographs. These are the same techniques (as used in competition volleyball) that you would use in social volleyball. The techniques used in beach volleyball are the same as in indoor volleyball. You will see the basics being used all the time on TV in beach volleyball competitions or in Olympic or World competitions.

The basic techniques
Volleyball is generally regarded as being made up of - dig, set and spike.

The Dig

The dig is a passing technique (you can use it to set the ball as well) to receive the serve and pass the ball to the setter (the person who will set up the ball to be spiked. The dig is not easy to learn and normally requires a lot of practice to be confident in using it, but it is a very versatile technique and essential to receive or save low balls. To not dig is placing yourself at a disadvantage. The dig is sometimes referred to as a "bump" because you 'bump' the ball. Both arms are held straight out (and are always held straight) - it doesn't matter how you hold your hands together as long as you quickly do so. The point of contact is on the forearms, when doing this for the first time, it is usual for your arms to hurt (so practice with a jersey on and using a soft volleyball will help). You could practise wearing pads if you wish. You swing your arms in practice but when receiving a serve or spike you simply allow the ball to bounce off your arms - your arms held at 45 degrees from your body. With your swing (necessary when receiving a ball with little momentum {power} behind it - if the ball goes straight up, you are swinging too late in contact with the ball, if the ball goes horizontal you are swinging too early - remember that at point of contact your arms should be at 45 degrees so that you get the nice high pass or set. The aim of the dig or pass is to pass the ball to someone (usually the setter - the person standing in the middle of the front row at the net) in a high arc such that the ball lands straight down at the setters head. Low passes or wayward passes are not recomended, whereby the setter has to chase the ball to set. If you pass the ball to the general area of the setter - the setter should know that it's the setter's ball (and others should know that too - don't get in the way of the setter, when the setter is going after the ball to set) and go towards the ball to set it.

Problems arise, when you react too slowly or too late. This is the usual case a lot of times - you need to react sooner (intrepret the ball correctly) and react faster or else you fail to execute the technique properly. It's all to do with timing, when you know how the technique works. A split-second too late or too slow and it may appear the technique didn't work? With digging you're redirecting the ball, so you point towards where you wish to send the ball - with your arms. Trying to do this while receiving a fast serve (with spin) can be differcult.

With the dig - it is necessary to be 'ready' early, if you get ready too late, you can't dig correctly. If you're unsure whether to use the dig or not - get ready to use it anyhow because it is only the high balls you can't dig. Most serves are received with a dig, if it's too high - you can let it go because there's a good chance the ball will go out.

The Set

The set is a technique to 'set' up the ball to be spiked. For practicing this technique, you can catch the ball and then release (push) the ball away. Some players actually do this - catch the ball momentarily and then release it during the game, and it is legal. This is the only legal held ball, allowed in volleyball.
A beginner is not usually aware, that to soften the impact of the volleyball on your fingers, you let the ball travel a little, when you make contact with your fingers, like a catch - and then you push away with the movement of your arms to where you are passing or setting to.

The technique is as follows:

You form an open triangle with both hands - your forefingers form the tip and your thumbs point towards each other - Your fingers extend outwards and take the shape of the ball, so that you take the contact of the ball on all of your fingers. You spread the contact with the ball on all of your fingers, ie. the impact of the ball is absorbed on all the fingers - normally this will work alright.

You set the ball, usually to your left or right - and you should know if the spiker is right or left-handed so that you set appropriately for that spiker. If you're unsure, setting it absolute center should suffice in the meantime. It is best if you do a high set (called a "10") instead of a low set (called a "1" set) but a medium height set is alright (called a "5") for most people. With a high set there's plenty of time for the spiker to do the run and jump, and it's pretty obvious where the ball is going.

While it is normal to use the 'set' technique to set the ball, there is nothing wrong with using the 'dig' technique to set the ball, as long as the ball ends up where it is suppose to go, that is fine.

The Spike

Spiking the ball takes some practice to get right, for the beginner, because timing and coordination is essential. Generally it is a run, jump and spike. The run is necessary because the set may not be exactly in the correct place, so the spiker should run towards where the ball actually is. The jump is helpful because the higher you can hit/spike the ball the better angle you can apply. With a normal high net, the jump is essential to spike easily over the net and over any blockers. If you're not comfortable with the jump, just spike the ball as high as possible while standing - if your spiking technique is good, you will do alright.

There are different ways of spiking - a general way is as follows: Your spiking action consists of three movements, when they are all working together you will get the power. Use an open hand and not a closed fist - using an open hand in which you contact with your open palm area and fingers gives you a large contact area with the ball. The action consists of the shoulder, elbow and wrist action all working together. Don't use a lot shoulder movement because this will cause shoulder problems later on. The elbow action is to use a bent elbow and then straighten it. The last action is the wrist movement which curls over as a wrist flick. This last movement is very essential that adds spin to your spike. To get the power you need to do all three movements very quickly, - working together with little shoulder movement. This is not something you should do straight away, with no warm up. When spiking, do it slowly and casually as a warm up, and then do the normal quick action that is the spike, after you have warmed up enough.

For practice you can do a spike serve, in which you hold up the ball and then spike serve it, aiming for the top of the net. If the ball hits the top of the net and goes over, your spike is just right. If it doesn't go over - add that extra wrist action to see if it does next time. You don't need to throw the ball up - you can, if you wish to.

You can block at the net, by jumping up and raising both hands acting like a wall to stop a spike or the ball going over the net. You should keep your forearms straight too - because there are some lousy spikers who spike at the net, otherwise you may get hit in the face by a ball through the net. A block is regarded as not being a 'hit' so that you can pass the ball after having blocked it - or set it. (Same if your spike has been blocked - if the ball comes down on your side, you can carry on, with passing the ball or setting it.) A block is when you hold up your hands in the block position, at the net. Blocking and spiking is all about timing, and not so much to do with who is the stronger/powerful person.

General tips for playing Volleyball
It is important to do the 3 hits, ie. the 3rd hit goes over the net because volleyball is a team sport - it builds up team comraderie to set each other up for a spike and then go do it. If your team does only 1 or 2 hits, this becomes the norm and no one bothers to set up spikes - this is hardly volleyball. Volleyball is more enjoyable when you have more hits and when a team functions as a team. Even when chasing a wayward ball, which happens often, set it if you're the second hit, rather than trying to get a second hit over the net. A good setter can set with the worst pass that is given. Don't poach the ball off another player - even if that player is a raw beginner. Soon that player will never try to play a nearby ball, if the ball is continually poached. {Poaching is when someone steps in and plays the ball in front of another person, and poaches the ball, that should have been played by the other player. Even if you call out and play the ball - this is still considered poaching, when it is in the other player's area of cover, and the ball goes directly to that person.} {There is such a thing as covering each other - poaching is stealing the ball from another player, covering is assisting the other player in a helpful manner.} Poachers never encourage good teamwork - there are no star players in a team, players quickly drop out when there is a star poacher present. Covering each other is good, but poaching is not acceptable.

A usual system to avoid poaching is calling. You call out if the ball is inbetween players - calling out "Mine" or "I've got it"/etc. If the call is bad - the person who called for the ball usually have to ensure that he or she still plays the ball. You can out call someone by calling out afterwards "Mine!" and then that person should play the ball. The last person who called out for the ball, has priority to receive the ball.

You can get use to the ESP system, whereby calling is not normally used, and it's the first person to the ball when it lands inbetween players - you can get use to bumping into each other and still play the ball alright - but calling does help!

Practice tips

The easiest way to practice - is if you have the early game, turn up a few minutes early to practice - just make sure the person with the ball is there first. Otherwise the only other way is to do some practice outside somewhere, over the weekend, etc with a practice ball. Practice is essential, especially for beginners - so that they are aware of the basic techniques, and how they work. The basic volleyball techniques - dig, set and spike do work and are the best techniques to use. You can add a few original moves of your own - everyone has their own 'specials' they can do. The only difference between a novice and a good player, is that the good player has had lots more practice.

Tips for practice (solo)
Setting practice can be done by yourself, just set straight up to yourself, or set against a wall. If you wish to practice the new legal foot contact, practice tossing a ball against a wall and then gently kicking the ball up. It is a very soft kick you use - and not a hard kick. Spiking against a wall is good - just toss the ball up and have a spike - this takes some coordination, but with practice you can do this, and gain some coordination skills. It is better to spike at the ground just before a wall so that the angle of your spike is correct, and easier to retreive the ball afterwards.

Tips for practice (2 or more)
In the time before a game starts, it is usual for a team to hit the ball amongst themselves, as a warm up. Why not have a go at spiking the ball? You can practice the techniques you're not good at, in the warm up. Remember to warm up, ie. start slow and don't do anything fast and quick as your first action or actions. You can pull or strain a muscle if you suddenly do very quick and fast movements without warming up slowly. It is good to dig, set and spike amongst yourselves as a good warmup. It is easy to spike without a net, and instil some confidence in spiking. If the other team has not arrived yet - you can do some setting/spiking practice using the net. Have the setter standing at the net, and toss the ball high as an easy pass to the setter, then let everyone have a go at spiking. ie. running towards the set and spike the set. This is a good usual warmup, if the other side of the court is free.

Other techniques

This is the miscellaneous section of any other technique. Any technique is possible, as long as it is not a 'carry' technique, legally the only carry is the set technique which can allow you prolonged contact with the ball. Shopping trolley (cupped hands) techniques are frowned upon.

A good technique for playing the ball off the net, or close to the ground is to use a closed fist, as in the underarm serve. When receiving a serve and you can't get into the proper position to use a dig, you can try using one arm extended outwards, kinda like a one-armed dig - the arm is pointing outwards instead of inwards. Instead of letting the ball go by and land in-court, you choose to intercept it - hopefully it will bounce off and go up into the air, like a pass. Sometimes it's worthwhile to do this, although the ball may go wildly out of control because it's better than the alternative - having no contact with the ball at all. It's better to do something with the ball than nothing, when it lands in-court because next time it may work out and go where it is suppose to go. You can head the ball as in soccer, this is legal. It is now legal to use the foot - but it should be a soft kick and not a hard kick as in soccer. I've seen too many people hit by a kicked ball which can easily go towards someone's face.

The Rules

The rules are there for a reason - they help keep Volleyball a safe and non-contact sport. The most common rules that are broken by social players are:

Attacking the serve - either blocking it or spiking it. This is a no-no, not allowable under any circumstances.

When the ball is on one side of the court (is not above the net) more than the other, you cannot reach over onto the other side and spike or block the ball - you can only spike or block, if the ball is over the top of the net or on your side of the net. A blocker cannot reach over and block the other side when it is passing or setting on their first or second hit. The blocker can reach over, when the ball is above the net whereby the block starts above the net - and then pushes the ball over - but still the blocker cannot interfere with a first and second hit ball, if that ball is being passed or set.


There are problems when players allow their feet to cross over to the other side. This is highly frowned upon because this can easily cause severe ankle injuries. Ensure that you stay on your side of the net, when spiking or blocking.

Net Touches

While net touching is not strictly enforced in social volleyball, in competition volleyball - it is simply not allowed. You cannot touch the net during or as part of your spike or block - ie. as part of your completion of your spike or block movement. You will lose the point for instance, in the Masters Games.

The Volleyball

I would highly recommend the Mikasa Training Series VUL500 volleyball, it is plain white and is especially for players aged 12 and under. Tachikara do have an equivalent volleyball like this, but I don't know the Name/Particulars for it. I know they have one exactly like it. The Mikasa VUL500 is around NZ$85. It is a very lightweight volleyball, and can be very soft, if you have it at the right air pressure.

Hard or Soft Volleyballs
I do think that it is largely due to how much air you have inside the volleyball that determines whether it will be a hard or soft volleyball to play with. I thoroughly recomend a soft volleyball, as it is much more fun to play with, and enables you to do lots more 'saves' with it. There are also less injuries with a soft volleyball - to your fingers, ie. to your finger joints. You can easily develop injuries to all your fingers with using a hard volleyball. All it takes is to misjudge the contact with the volleyball - which can happen easily, at any time - due to how fast the volleyball can travel at times.
How to judge how much air pressure is just 'right'! When you press into the volleyball with your thumbs, the ball should give in, a little. The volleyball is hard when there is great resistance (no give) to your thumbs pressing in. I would recomend a 2-4 mm of variation. 4mm being very soft, and 2mm being soft. Approximately. You will thank me, when you made contact inappropriately with the volleyball, and you don't get a serious finger injury from the contact.

The Hard/Soft Volleyball debate
Volleyball players who play with a hard volleyball all the time - will say that a soft volleyball is flat, upon touching it. This is not the case. Wait till someone gets a serious finger injury from using a hard volleyball - who will verify the dangers of playing with a hard volleyball. Once you have a serious finger injury - you do not want to get another injury (most players still want to keep on playing volleyball, even with an injury - wouldn't you?) which will put your joint out altogether with unbearable pain. And you really don't want to end up with mangled fingers after many years of playing volleyball, do you? A soft volleyball of course, plays differently, to a hard volleyball, but it's a difference you can get use to, just as those who have used only hard volleyballs got use to their volleyball. The differences are neglible when fun and safety are the main priorities - yes - it's way more fun playing with a soft volleyball, you can easily add spin to the ball, even adding super extra-spin when the volleyball is light and soft. It makes for some hilarious moments, and you will find you can do some incredible saves with it.
A good normal volleyball to use, is the synthetic leather Super Soft Tachikara retailing at around NZ$85. There is a Mikasa volleyball selling for the same price, but it has a hard rubber centre which is hard on the arms.
There is not an adequate way to try out a volleyball in the store, only on a volleyball court - but you can try bouncing it off your arm and feel if it hurts or bounce softly off. You should be able to return the ball if you haven't used it much at all and are dissatisfied with the quality of it - and get an exchange for it.

When you pay $85+ for a volleyball - it is designed for indoor use only and should never be used outside (unless it is on grass only) on any other surface. Don't bounce it on asphalt, pavement, etc. The skin will quickly deteriorate and will quickly turn from soft to hard. Never use it on the beach because salt damages it quickly.

You can purchase practice volleyballs for around $25 which is called a rubber ball that starts off hard and softens up. There is a Tachikara type, and Unipol sells one as well. These practice balls can be used anywhere and on any surface - even such surfaces as brick or concrete walls for practice against.

Looking after an expensive volleyball

Always clean it when it gets dirty, with a little soap and water. Don't use it outside the gym. Never bounce it on ashpalt, pavement, etc. Don't have it pumped up with too much air - a soft ball will behave like a hard ball, with too much air.
I would like add that when you have too much air in any volleyball, ie. it is a very hard volleyball - because of the air pressure inside - if there is any weakness with the structural integrity of the volleyball (ie. a volleyball skin is made up of segments that are sewn/glued together, that cover the bladder, and any weakness in the joins, either due to poor quality contruction or worn through usage - the tremendous air pressure will force the bladder through any weak/open area. Basically the bladder will pop. Meaning --- that a volleyball with less air pressure, ie. a soft volleyball --- would be usuable for very many years afterwards. Something to think about - because when paying $85 just the one volleyball, you would like it to last for as many years as possible? Wouldn't you?
I know that a retailer would give a one year assurance of a new volleyball lasting out a year, but after that period you'll have to replace a faulty volleyball yourself.
I do know what I am talking about, as regards volleyball and volleyballs, having played approximately anywhere from 4 hours to 6 hours weekly for over 10 years. I have experienced all manner of injuries in the process too.


The most common injury I have seen happen in volleyball is the ankle twist - and this is easily preventable and avoidable if you wear the correct shoes - basketball style boots which protect your ankles. Don't wear low-cut sports shoes - they offer no protection whatsoever. I have experienced twisted ankles and know that basketball boots offer you the best protection, and when you experience an injury (ouch!) your injury is minimised. Such that you're still able to carry on, if you wish to. The most common ankle injury is at the net, at a spike/block encounter in which you jump and land on someone's foot - you end up landing on your ankle and straining it. The other event is when someone approaches the set at the net far too late and gets off balanced and slips over. I think people who don't exercise much are prone to injury when they're not use to judging their own movement and action. This tends to happen early in the game, than later on. Even experienced / fit people can suffer ankle injuries - it can happen to anyone.


This is the recomended treatment - if you suffer a serious ankle injury. Firstly there is nothing to ease the pain with. Remember what it is like when you have to bear the pain at the dentist or in any other situation. Just acknowledge that you feel the pain (say Ouch! or whatever) and don't think about it. Do not take off your shoe (that will not take the pain away) unless you have something cold on hand (ice, frozen vegies or a cold drink can) to apply to the bruise, this will keep the swelling down. Or else the bruise will mushroom in size and you will not be able to put your shoe back on.

Think of I C E as the way to treat ankle injuries Ice to apply to the bruise to keep the swelling down. Compression - apply a compression bandage, this is the very long muslim bandage that costs around $3, that you wind around the injured ankle - stretch it tight but not super tight, and apply tape to keep it in place. This will allow you to walk alright and take strain off the ankle enabling you to walk unaided. Keep this on and your ankle will recover quickly and painlessly. Elevation - this is suppose to help you, immediately after you injured your ankle, lie down with your leg/ankle raised. Keep it like this for a while and rest. If you don't look after your ankle injury properly - you will probably experience needless pain and suffering for a month, but if you do the above, it will only be a minor inconvenience - but all this is preventable if you wear basketball boots or any boots with ankle support.

I've experienced about 5 ankle injuries and even both ankles at the same time - now that was truly weird, and carry on with that injury and still function. ie. By wearing shoes/boots with ankle protection/cover --- I experienced a very brief sensation of pain, enough for you to say "Ouch!" [saying it, does help a great deal] - to acknowledge the pain - and I was still able to walk around almost immediately afterwards. I didn't need to do any kind of treatment afterwards - because I kept on playing, although rather gingerly - as you do not wish to have another exact same accident so soon afterwards.

The other common injury is injury to the fingers.

This happens when you receive the ball using the set technique with a fast ball (serve or spike), catching the ball on one finger or a few fingers instead of taking the contact on all of your fingers. You can't set the ball using an injured finger - with an injured finger it's best if you don't use the set technique at all, but use the dig instead. You can use a different technique instead of the set technique, when receiving a fast ball. I don't know if there's a name to this technique, in which you use both hands - make a fist with one hand, and cover the other hand over the fist, and use the bottom leading ledge of both hands as a flat base - you aim both elbows up at about 45 degrees, and let the ball bounce off both hands (ie. off the flat base you're created.) (the leading edge is that part of the karate chop that makes contact with a person, or when you bang your hand on a table, that soft part thereof.) This works fine with any fast high ball, or just practice it with any high ball that comes your way. You can use this as a passing/ setting technique, or just use it to hit the ball across the net (add some forward motion) like a cannon shot technique.
If you have an injuried finger - you can wrap around some cloth around it, and secure it with a rubber band, while it is somewhat McGwyer-ish, it does work. Simply cut an old white T-Shirt into a suitable length/size finger bandage, whereby you can wrap it several times around the injury, and use a suitable rubber band that will hold it fast, be sure it is not too tight - your finger/thumb will turn blue/purple otherwise. In fact you can wrap such cloth around your most vulnerable joints - your thumb joint (your thumb is the most useful on your hand) - if your joints are weakened already from volleyball, this is a good preventive measure to keep future injuries to the minimum. You may look silly, but like wearing knee pads, it is worthwile doing/wearing, so that you are prepared for the worst, and not likely to be injured during play.


For those people wearing glasses, they should be sure that their glasses are made of plastic lenses - you should not be wearing glass glasses in sport, they shatter all too easily and end up with glass splinters on the floor which are hard to clean away, with nothing to clear it away with. It is too dangerous. It is essential to be wearing a sports band, which goes around to the back of the head, they cost only about $5 at most optometrists. They keep your glasses on, should you be hit in the head with a ball. Spikers should be aware that they should not be aiming for peoples' heads - only a daft, silly spiker does that. If you add spin to your spikes, this does not happen - probably.


Yes, what happens in volleyball is very much the laws of physics in action. eg. You have to be careful of adding extra momentum to the ball, when you don't want to - or else the ball rockets off going out of court. The situation is - you're going forward to retrieve/contact the ball - you're having to zoom in quickly to catch it in time - but how do you avoid adding your own quick motion to the ball? Simply, you slow down as you're making contact with it - and hopefully you will see you can control the ball and do what you wanted to do in the first place - probably just send it over the net because it's too awkward to pass the ball. In a spike/block net encounter - physics is very much in play. When a spike/block is done at exactly the same time - there is a dead ball - the actions will cancel each other out and the ball will fall to the ground - you'll only see this - if the action(s) is done at the same time. In a spike/block net encounter it is interesting to note, that there is an advantage to doing your action (either spike or block) a fraction later than the other person in which the last person/action is the one able to win the confrontation. ie. end up with the ball on the other side. In such a situation, remember to expect the block/spike and for the other person to really push the ball - it then becomes the sticky fingers time, to see who touches the net and whose side the ball favours? Whoever loses - ends up having to hit the ball back up - which is legal, and perhaps setting up this encounter/situation all over again. Note:
A woman can block a powerful spiker - with exact timing. It is good to see this happen - showing it's never a case of power being everything, but timing.


Spin may not be regarded as a major component of volleyball, as in Table Tennis or Tennis - but it's something to be aware of, because it can introduce some very funny results to the game. Adding spin to your spike is good because you can see that the ball can be hit into the net, see it climb the net and go over, scoring the point as it lands inside the lines. Adding the wrist action does this. Also if the spike is blocked it's nice to see the ball spinning after the block hopefully towards open space. It doesn't matter if the block is there - a good spin on the ball ensures it will get over anything.

Anytime you hit the ball with a long arc, like doing the backwards dig over your head, you can add terrific spin to the ball, that it looks like it's going high and out, but lands in.


The easiest serve for a beginner is the underarm serve where you hit the ball with a closed fist - just swing your arm hitting the ball with fingers/palm closed. The spike serve is good to do, to practise the spiking technique. It's not exactly like the spike because you're hitting the ball further than a spike would normally travel. An unusual serve to do is to use your back and whole body with a catapult like technique swinging your whole arm over your head like as in an exercise. The Chinese girls tend to use this, seen in Olympic competition - or a variation of it. Because you're hitting the ball with a long arc - you can get terrific spin serving this way. Good contact with a cupped hand ensures this. This is a good serve to do as many times as you like to, because it's using your body weight, and the more relaxed you are, the more spin you can add to the ball motion.

Remember that hitting the ball with an arc motion will add spin to the ball, which will ensure it will go over the net, when you hit the top of the net, and the ball will land in court, instead of going out.

Beginners usually lack confidence because they are new to what they are doing, which is perfectly natural.
They just need to remember, that once they have done something correctly, they should try to have a snapshot in their mind of how they did it, and say 'Oh, I can do that, because I have just done it!'. Try to recapture the feeling of doing it, and then congradulate that you have just done it - with 'I can do it!' attitude.
And to remember what they did right - they can do time and time again. Everyone has certain abilities, which they can do time and time again - because somehow they can do that action.
Whether it's doing a save with the foot, or able to play the volleyball as it is dropping against the net, or doing a perfect set behind you - or any kind of action/movement that has surprised you at first, which happens a second time, and any number of times after that.


Volleyball is a team sport - this is where it excells.

I don't like the idea of a team made up of star players - the team spirit is more important than letting the star player(s) dominate the team. I think that a team of bad players who have the team spirit can beat a team of good players who can't play as a team. As long as the teamwork is working - you can do better than a team in which the teamwork is not working, even if the players are better than you are.

A spike cannot be done without a set - and for good sets, you need to keep on setting. And no one is going to be good spiker unless they get the sets so that they can practice their spiking. It is when a person doesn't even try spiking - then I can see the reason not to set for that player.

Teams can have their own system in place for who is the setter, and how to cover the court for each other, etc - but it is useful to know the usual methods that most teams adopt, so that when you play in another team, you know the usual methods that team follows.

Some players may frequently play the one hit, like tennis - but that isn't volleyball. When you ignore or forget about your team all the time, it's hardly good volleyball you're playing. And when the team does two hits as it's method of play - this introduces some bad habits, like not setting each other up for spikes, and needless points lost because of not doing a set - the ball is just hit over the net or try to - whereas setting the ball, makes it easy for someone else to spike or do the third hit with more surety. I find it sad to see someone chase the ball and then hit it into the net or out, whereas it could have been set or passed for a third hit. Redirection of the ball is hard or impossible in a chase situation, but passing or setting is possible and easier to do.


Strategies are pretty obvious, most of the time. Against a formidable team Spike towards their weak players. Serve towards their weak receivers. Spike into open areas (even the best players have no defense to this - if you directly spike towards these target areas).

Fair play strategies

This is where you don't take advantage of the other team, but play to their strengths (better players). Serve to their best players and see if your serve is any good? Spike to their better players to see if you are a better spiker? If you find the opposition boring, then this will liven things up for you.

<> To avoid a boring game you can have some fun by : Do unusual sets - like practicing the "1" short set - which requires the spiker to be very fast, rushing towards the net and spiking a set that is set just a little above the net. Setting horizontally - fast - requiring the spiker to be on the ball to spike it. Setting towards the player left, when they're right handed. Setting towards the backrow for a backcourt spike. Doing wild and wacky passes and sets.


This is a last tips section - for those wanting to improve their skills. It is very difficult to improve your standard of volleyball if you only play the one game per week. First off, you need the basic skills working - it will only take someone to show you the basics in an hour (if you do not know what these are?) or less, and probably at least 2 hours to go over them in detail. I estimate that if you do some practice over a month, eg. practiced the basics over the weekend or whenever you can - you will be able to master the basics. {You need only spike against a wall with a practice rubber volleyball in a carpark area - to get some confidence in your spiking). With digging you do need someone to catch or pass the ball back. With setting you can set against a wall or to yourself (set vertically straight up).

The basic techniques are invaluable - use them.

If you find that volleyball is your sport - you enjoy it immensely, you will find that playing on another evening will help you a great deal to improve yourself with. You can learn to relax while playing - and if you can play in a good team, you'll find that a whole bit better.

You choose to play at the level/standard that you wish to. If you wish to improve - that is up to you. Playing against a better team does help - often players will play up to a better standard when faced with a good opposition. Though you need good teamwork to hold your own or beat them.

The same situations happen again and again in volleyball. If you can do something once - like a good dig, set and spike - you can do it again. When you do something right, tell yourself - you can do it again, and you can. Sometimes you just do something - and it works - and this keeps on happening when you do it again - you have your own technique that works! Sometimes you do things - that works, you don't know how or why, just that it works. You do it, and it works. Everyone has that hidden talent - that keeps on happening, more times than we care to admit. When you play enough volleyball - you see this happening often.

In Social Volleyball, almost anything goes --- I don't suggest you become predictable and adhere to the 3 hits all of the time --- it helps to be unpredictable at times and take everyone by surprise. That is what is different about volleyball --- you can be surprised by what happens. eg. A guy did this excellent spike and the ball landed in front of me - but I just manage to put my foot in front of the ball, and the ball travelled upwards and over the net landing behind the spiker. Everyone was surprised by what happened, including me.

And when you think you know it all? Try this ---
If you are right handed, try left handed spikes and serves? Vice versa if you're left handed.
You can do it, all it takes is practice, practice, practice! Never give up and always keep trying --- you will then see how good you can really get to be. The reason for doing the above, is that sometimes you are in the wrong position, and have to use your other hand to do something with the ball, so why not use your other hand and spike it! It can be done.
The Spirituality Aspect of Volleyball
Yes, it is present all the time during volleyball, in that you can connect within yourself, with your spirit, during playing. Whereby you use any legal means possible to make contact with the volleyball, and use whatever technique that is appropriate for that situation.
Like for instance, you may not favour or do 'tipping' as a matter of course, but sometimes you just do it - unexplainably. It is hard to say why you do things at times - you just do it.
This is very much like that same aspect in martial arts. You may practice the same action many times over, and when it comes to doing it, you don't think about it anymore, you simply do it.

About the Author

This document is written by Harvey A. Kong Tin, who has played social volleyball for over ten years - sometimes playing up to 7 hours each week (though rarely).

I'm not a competition player, neither do I rank myself as an excellent player - but I'm observant to see the same things happening again and again.

I don't come from a coaching background - I'm just a keen social volleyball player who would like to see social teams playing better. There are very keen social players who have played for years and years - I just feel that if players use the standard basic volleyball techniques - their game(s) will improve considerably and they'll enjoy the game even more.

Social teams have a tendency to disintegrate after a while - for whatever reason but I would guess a common factor may be how they are not playing as a team.

Social Volleyball has been going strong for many years here all thanks to the organiser - Bill Turnbull. Anyone wishing to play a local game - are welcomed. Games are played on Mondays, Tuesdays - all year, with a big break over our summer holiday period, which is from early December through to late January. This year, I hope to have some informal games/practice going on at Unipol over the summer holiday period - students permitting on Wednesday evenings from 7.30 pm. {If there are few students using the gymnasium, then we'll have some great games - otherwise it is a shared facility} Social games are played for one hour, usually from 7pm or 8pm depending on the draw.