Year 8 Volleyball Unit

Dig, Set and Spike your way to Volleyball stardom

About Volleyball

Volleyball is a team sport played with a ball and a net. There are teams on each side of the net. One team hits the ball over the net and into the other team's court, the other team must then hit the ball back over the net and in bounds within three tries without letting the ball touch the ground.

There are two main kinds of competitive volleyball played in the world right now. They are team volleyball and beach volleyball. Both are Olympic sports and have competitive leagues. Team volleyball is played indoors on a hard court with 6 people per team. Beach volleyball is played outdoors on the sand with 2 players per team.

Object of the game

The object of volleyball is to play the ball over the net and into the opponent's court so that it cannot be returned. Each team has 3 hits to return the ball.


A team can score points only when it has the serve. If the receiving team wins a rally, it wins the serve, not a point. Each set is up to 25 points in Indoor Volleyball and 21 for Beach Volleyball. However, if two teams are tied on 25 points each, they play on until one team gains a 2 point lead. A match is the best of 3 or 5 sets.


Each time a team wins back the serve, all players of that team rotate one position in a clockwise direction. Each time a team wins back the serve, the right front player takes the ball and goes to the service position.

Volleyball : How to Rotate in Volleyball

Volleyball Faults

There are several ways to fault and lose the point. Here are some examples:
  • Hitting the volleyball illegally - you must strike the ball in a manner such that you don't hold the ball or palm, carry, or throw it.
  • Stepping over or on the line while serving
  • Not hitting the ball over the net
  • Touching the net
  • Reaching under the net and interfering with a player or the ball
  • Not serving in the correct order
  • Hitting the volleyball out of bounds
  • Double hitting - when the same player hits the ball twice in a row
  • Hitting the ball more than 3 times
  • The server strikes the ball while it is still in contact with the support hand


There are 2 basic serves used in volleyball:

  • the underarm serve
  • the overarm serve

Either serve is used to begin every rally, and can be played from anywhere behind the baseline.

Underarm Serve

  • Hold the ball on the open palm of their non-hitting hand
  • Point the ball at the centre of the opponent's court, but WATCH the ball
  • Stay low and bending forward
  • Stand with the same foot forward as their non-hitting hand
  • Strike the ball with a flat fist
  • Just before contact, drag their support palm away so the ball is in mid air

Overarm Serve

  • Hold the ball out in front of their body with their non-hitting hand. Have their hitting hand back in the ready position
  • Stand with their same foot forward as their non-hitting hand
  • Guide the ball up (2-3 feet) in front of their hitting hand
  • Step and swing through the ball with hitting hitting hand from the ready position
  • Make firm contact with the ball at arm's length using the base of the palm

Volleyball : How to Serve a Volleyball

The 'Dig'

The dig is the basic defensive shot in volleyball, and is generally played by back court players when receiving the serve or opposition spikes.

  • For the correct grip, keep palms one on top of the other, then place the two thumbs together
  • Lock elbows straight
  • Make contact with the ball on the fleshy forearms of both arms simultaneously, between the wrists and elbows
  • Stand with one foot forward with knees bent
  • Use the legs to get into position
  • NEVER bend the elbows

How to Dig in Volleyball

Use of the dig

The dig is used whenever the ball falls below the eye height. Since the ball is usually coming at the player with speed, the need only let it rebound off their forearms. Players should never attempt to play a dig with their arms separated or using their palms. This is immediately a foul shot and the team loses the rally.

The 'Set'

The set shot should be the second of a team's three hits. The set shot is the key to building or 'setting up' for an attack. Setting is the tactical centre of volleyball. A setter must be good enough to feed his or her best hitters while also looking for opponent’s blocking weaknesses (such as a short player in the front line or a slow centre blocker).

  • Form a triangle with the two thumbs as a base and the index fingers as the sides
  • Place the triangle in front of their face and curl the their hands in the shape of the ball.
  • Spread other fingers, keeping elbows out and take the ball with soft hands in front of eyes, pushing it with their triangle and other fingers.

The ball should never touch the palms, as that is a carry. The power sequence for the shot is:

  • leg push
  • arm push
  • wrist flick
  • finger push

A good set loops 2 metres above the net and is parallel to the net

Volleyball : How to Set a Volleyball

The 'Spike'

The spike is the real attacking shot in volleyball. To be able to spike, players must be able to jump above net height and then coordinate a tennis serve action in mid air. The aim of the spike is to thump the ball hard down into the opponent's open court.

To complete the shot players must:

  • Take a 3 step run up, finishing with a two foot vertical takeoff. If you are right handed, your approach should be "left foot, right foot-left foot, jump" and vice-versa if you are left handed.
  • As you take the last 2 step, extend arms down and backwards and bend knees.
  • You want to make contact with the ball in front of you, not directly overhead. Keep eyes on the ball and as you jump swing arms up and in front of you. Aim to have an arch in your back which will provide more power. Use arms in a swinging motion to get higher above the net.
  • When in the air, point to the ball with non-hitting hand, and pull your hitting hand back so that the back of your hand is right next to your ear - as if you're pulling a bow and arrow.
  • Extend the hitting hand straight out above you, and hit the ball, contacting the upper half of the ball with the heel of your open hand at the very top of your swing.
  • Snap your wrist downward to impart topspin and direct the ball down into your opponent's court while spreading your fingers.
  • Follow through by bringing your arm down "through" the ball and next to your body.
  • Bend knees to absorb the shock when landing.

The 'Block'

The block is used as the defence against the spike. The front court player opposite the opposition spiker jumps up and tries to block the ball with two hands. A block does not count as part of a team's three hits.

  • with the block there is no run up
  • players make a two-foot vertical takeoff but do not touch the net.
  • spread the fingers of both hands. The player's hands should be less than a ball width apart.
  • Time jump with that of the spiker
  • players are allowed to place their hands just over the net so that the ball rebounds off the blocker's hands down onto the spiker's side of the net.

Volleyball : How to Block a Volleyball


The volleyball team is in offence when it has possession of the ball, and in defence when the opposition has the ball. Players should use their team for maximum court coverage and use the 3 hits in the best way possible.