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Youth Volleyball Basics: A Beginner's Guide For Parents

Volleyball is a sport in which two teams of six attempt to score points on their opponents by grounding the ball on the other team’s side, or by forcing the other team to either hit the ball into the net or out of bounds.  A mid-court net separates each team’s area. 

When the ball is in play, each team can only touch the ball three times before sending it over the net into the opponent’s court, and never twice in a row by the same player.  Under "rally scoring,"  a point is scored regardless of which team is serving, with the ball going over to the other team to serve if it wins the point on defense and staying with the serving team if it wins the point.  

The first team to get to 25 points, with a two-point margin, wins the set.  The first team to win three sets wins, the fifth set typically played to 15 points.

The ball


A volleyball is typically made of leather or synthetic materials, with a circumference of  65-57 cm and a weight of 260-280 grams.  Players are allowed to strike the ball with any part of their body (briefly), but typically use their hands.

The serve


The serving player, standing with both feet behind the end line, throws the ball up and hits it over the net into the opponent’s court. If the ball hits the net and falls on the serving team's side or falls out of bounds on the opponent's side, the point is awarded to the defensive team, which then serves the next point.

Typical types of contact

The bump/pass is typicallythe first return contact, in which a player makes initial contact with a ball and tries to get it to a teammate in a controlled manner. 

The set is usually the second contact made with the ball, with the player receiving the bump pushing the ball up into the air with his fingertips so as to induce minimal spin to set up the attacker, who jumps into the air and forcibly strikes the ball down across the net into the opponent’s court (an action called spiking).

The next contact is either by a player on the serving team whor jumps up to block the attacker's attempted spike.  If the block is successful, the ball is sent it back over the net into the attacker's court.  If the block is unsuccessful, a player on the defending team attempts to dig the ball (keep it from touching the court) so another set and spike can be attempted.  This whole process can repeat itself indefinitely as a series of volleys until one team scores.

Typical faults

  • Touching the ball too long

  • The ball lands outside the court, in the offense’s court, or fails to go over the net

  • The net is touched by player making a play

  • When a serve is made, a player or players jump(s) up and try to  screen the shot.



The setter generally leads the team’s offense, setting up shots for attacking players as the second person touching the ball.


Attacker/Blockers are usually tall and have a good vertical jump, because their main job is to spike the ball on offense and block the ball on defense.  A successful block will stay on the opponents side of the court, hopefully reaching the ground and scoring a point.


Liberos are free to roam the court, and are typically quick and agile in order to handle shots from the other team,  and pass the ball to the setters and attackers close to the net.  Liberos are defensive player who rarely come close to the net.

Outside/Power Hitters

Outside hitters stay near the outside corners of the net in order to defend attacks in this region, but more importantly to attack using oblique angles which can be difficult to defend.

Middle Blocker

Middle blockers stay close to the setter and block very fast plays.  They also specialize in returning the ball quickly.



Antennae: vertical poles holding up the net

Attack: Hitting the ball in attempt to score a point.

Block: Attempting to defend against an opponent’s attack.

Bump or Bump pass: Using the forearms to pass the ball to a teammate.

Cut shot: A shot hit over the net at a sharp angle to make it difficult to defend.

Decoy:  A type of play designed to trick the other team when setting a shot into thinking one player is going to attack when another player is the one who strikes the ball.

Dig: The act of keeping the ball alive before it hits the court for a point.

Floater: Hitting the ball in a way that does not produce spin.  Can be difficult for opponent’s to follow.

Hit: The act of striking the ball.

Kill: A hit that lands in the opponent’s court without any touches by the defending team.

Serve: The act of throwing the ball into the air and hitting it to the other side of the court.

Set: The act of passing the ball in a controlled fashion to a teammate so that he can “spike” the ball into the other team’s court, resulting in a kill.

Spike: A forcible downward striking of the ball over the net with the intention of scoring a point.

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