6 Important Skills You Definitely Need for Volleyball!

what skills do you need for volleyball

Volleyball is a game of heart, strength as well as skills. If you lack any of those elements then you will definitely suffer performing as well as you would hope for. However, what takes the most time and dedication to learn are the skills …

Indeed, it is very important to master as much volleyball skills as possible to perform at the best of your abilities.

In this article, I breakdown the most important volley skills out there and how you can learn and practice them the right way.

Let’s dive in!

6 Basic and Critical Skills in Volleyball

1. Passing

This is a very basic yet extremely important skill. Passing is simply using your forearm to accurately redirect the ball to a teammate who is, preferably, in a favorable attacking position.

To do it properly you’ll need to bend your knees and body forward. This will allow you to move to the ball as quickly as possible.

Players with good passing skills are usually the most valuable to the team!

2. Setting

setting in volleyball

Statistically, setting is very often the 2nd shot and it aims to give your teammates the edge by giving him a great attacking situation. In simple terms you bounce the ball so your teammate can hit it to score a point. This situation I’ve described here is a sequence that happens a lot and that result in scoring a lot of points.

So teams that master that are usually the ones that end up scoring the more points very quickly.

A set should be high, but not too high as this would also give the opposite team’s blocker enough time to block the ball.

One more criteria of a good set is that it shouldn’t be very far or too close from the Net. A distance of 40 inches is perfect!

Keep in mind that setting the ball without noise is a good indicator of the move quality!

3. Spiking


This is where the action takes place. Spikes look and feel great when they are successful. This is the most common and attractive attack, but there are other effective shots that the player can execute…

Quick Tip: To help give your hands more strength while spiking the ball, you can do what we call “buddy taping” which simply means taping 2 of your fingers together. This will make your spikes even more powerful. To do so you can for example use a quality tape like this one.

The idea is to spike the ball with great force, making it difficult for the other teams to receive the ball.

Jumping while spiking adds obviously even more power and momentum to the shot while  giving the player the height  to aim the ball.

4. Blocking


This still is mainly used for defensive sequences when the other team is trying to initiate an attack by spiking the ball from their side.

In volleyball blocking is all about timing. This mainly comes with anticipating the opposite team attack and jumping at the perfect time to block it. A great way to do so, is by monitoring the attacking player shoulder. This will give you a nice indication on where the attack is going.

It is very important to cover maximum space even with your beloved fingers by spreading them.

Important Recommendation: Blocking is when ankle injuries happen the most. Indeed, when landing after a very high jump, you need to be aware or your feet & legs during the moment you’re landing. This will help minimizing the impact on your ankles. Also, it is very recommended to use quality volleyball shoes with a solid grip and good ankle protection layer. For example these quality volleyball shoes will help protect your ankles and would even give a little extra push when jumping.

Keep in mind that you can be good at blocking even if you are not tall enough!

5. Digging


Digging is a very important defense skill in volleyball. A dig is a pass made by a player on a team after the opposing team has played the ball on the net.

Diggs often need to get hard drive shots or spikes from the opposing team. A successful trench keeps your team in the right position and prepares your team to fight back.

Diggs can be run by any player on the court, but are usually classified as midfield and backfield defensive players.

Keep in mind that sometime, to be able to dig for the ball you need dive. That’s why for those cases you should learn how to dive without really hurting yourself!

6. Serving

Every point starts with a serve. Even many points can be and are scored in serves. Serving is also a great way to give your team the edge to impose your will during an attacking sequence.

Usually beginners start with what we call an underhand serve, professionals don’t use it because it would be an easy ball for the opposite team.

Before serving take 3 seconds to identify the weak player or the weak zone in the opposite team court part, then you should target this area with as much power as possible.

Official rules give you 5 up to 8 seconds to serve. This depends on the country and league you will be playing in. Of course as an amateur you can take much more than that, just make sure you don’t annoy your teammates LoL.

Don’t forget to not cross the serving line; otherwise this could cost you and your team a point.

Finally, keep in mind that you can practice service without having a net in front of you! You can use those drills if you are in a yard or something like that …

Specific Skills needed for each volleyball position


Setter should be fast and agile enough to be able to place the ball quickly in the right areas. In addition, setter should:

  • Be able to set the ball accurately: He needs to have his target defined right before his he sets to help increase his accuracy. He is usually involved in attacking sequences, yet he should be involved in all sequences to help beneficiate his teammates from his accuracy.
  • Have good leadership: This involves having a prior deep knowledge about the weaknesses and mostly strengths of each and every team member. This will allow his to select players he is going to set based on what that which would definitely increase their chances of success.

Outside Hitter

Considered by many as the most important attacking element. He definitely needs to have great jumping ability. Not only jumping very high, but also jumping at the right time when the opponent expects it the least. They also play an important role defensively.

In general an outside hitter needs to:

  • Serve and Receive: in defensive sequences outside hitter needs to be able to properly receive the ball to initiate attacks. He usually needs to pass the ball to the setter and be ready to hit the ball if the setter selects him to attack.
  • Be able to properly read the opposite team: Otherwise he will keep sending the ball to one of the opposite team players and make things easier for them to counter attack.

Opposite Hitter

Some people prefer to call it the right side hitter. He has the main role of hitting the ball when it makes sense, but also he is usually considered as the first back-up of the setter when the latter can’t set the ball.

In addition the opposite hitter should have a …

  • Strong setting ability: Preferably as good as the main setter. So even if the opposite team develop a strategy to make harder for the main setter to set the ball, he can still play that role as good as it should be.
  • Read all the court: In addition to the opposite team the opposite hitter should be able to read hit teammates movements so he can know exactly when he should play the hitter role and when he should intervene and player the setter role.

Middle Blocker

Middle blockers need to read the attackers of other teams and quickly raise his or her arms above the net in a blocking attempt. In addition he needs to …

  • Be a good communicator: He needs to constantly lead his team and make sure they understand the ongoing strategy and correct players who seem having problems applying it.
  • Read the ball directions: Middle blocker is the player who contributes the most to the direction of the overall game of his team. He won’t be able to do so without properly reading the ball especially when it is coming from the opposite side.


When it comes to defense, Libero needs to dig well and handle all the balls as much as possible to keep the game going.  Generally he should always:

  • Be there and ready to help: If the attacker attempts a spike and finds an opposite player forming a block, he will be there and cover the “hole”. If he sees his teammates forming a block, the attacker may want to play it tricky and remember to slowly slide behind the block instead of spiked the ball hard.
  • Nurture motivation in the team: Generally Liberoes are the most emotional in the team. This is extremely contagious for the other teammates as it helps bring fire and inspire others. Learn how to be aggressive for volleyball.

Final Thoughts …

If you keep searching on the Internet, you might find other articles providing more glamourous skills that are quite flashy and impressive when you do them. However, keep in mind that volleyball is a sport that reward players & teams that stick well to the basics …

And the skills I’ve addressed above are the basics and the foundation of the sport. If you master those, be sure that you will be a high caliber player!

So, don’t pay too much attention to the noise and stick to the basics and you’ll do just fine.

Carissa Harmer

Carissa Harmer has over 6 years of volleyball experience between playing the sport at a semi-professional level, following the biggest volleyball teams & leagues out there as well as helping beginners to get started on the right path.

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