Beginner Tips

Just starting to play volleyball? Here's some tips and links to help you get started

Learn Volleyball Rules

It all begins with the volleyball rules. You’ll hardly be able to play volleyball if you are unaware of the rules. The full rule books can be overwhelming to read through so we recommend reading summaries like this one from the art of coaching volleyball.

Avoid Catching the Ball

One of the main rules in volleyball is that  you can’t lift or make prolonged contact with the ball. So make sure you don’t catch the ball.

Be aggressive and pursue the ball

Stay on your toes and move to the ball whenever it comes to you. 

You may not feel confident. You may not pass it well. You may miss the ball. But nothing will frustrate your team faster than letting the ball drop because you were afraid to go after it.

Communicate with your team

Success in volleyball depends a lot on communication skills. Being able to communicate where you are/where you are going as a play is moving can help your teammates adjust and avoid injuries and accidents. The two most frequent things to shout are:

  • “Mine” usually short for “I’m going for the ball”
  • “Help” usually short for “I can’t get to the ball, someone else get it”

Don't get discouraged

Volleyball can be hard when you start out. While the mechanics for hitting the ball are similar to other sports, there’s a lot of new body movements to learn all at once. Everyone has to start somewhere.

Always Warm Up Before Volleyball Games and Practices

Some players jump right in without a warm up. This is usually a mistake. Just like other athletic activities, if you don’t warm up properly, you’re more likely to get injured during the game.

Use the Right Equipment to Play Volleyball

If you have just started playing the sport of volleyball then you should spend wisely on your gear and equipment. Despite the fact that volleyball doesn’t require too much gear, you want to make sure you get shoes that are appropriate for the quick, lateral movement and jumping involved in volleyball.

For indoors you may also want knee pads to protect your knees from injuries. 

Keep the ball off the net

Tight (close to the net) passes make it harder for your teammates to set the ball for an attack. Aim to pass the ball high in the air, and in the middle of the court so your teammates can set it. Ideally a good pass will get you your team mate 3-4ft off the net, but if your pass isn't perfect, it's easier for your teammate to adapt to it being further away from the net rather than the ball hitting the net.

Some teammates may always ask you to set the ball really tight to the net because they want to hit the ball straight down. Unless they are an experienced player, setting the ball tight (close to the net) is more likely to result in them getting blocked, or them touching the net, or worse, going under the net and potentially injuring someone.

Start Serving Overhand

It can be tempting to serve underhand just to get the ball over, and it may be helpful for getting the ball in play when you’re first getting started, but the faster you learn to serve overhand the better. Learning to get the ball over the net while serving overhand will help you as you get better at serving, and helps you practice the same mechanics you need to spike the ball.

Move your feet to the ball

One of the most common reasons players have trouble passing the ball is because they try to reach for the ball at awkward angles instead of moving to it, which usually results in the ball ricocheting in the wrong direction.

When receiving, gauge where the ball is going, then move your feet to where the ball is going. Your goal is to have a consistent, balanced platform every time you pass the ball. You should try to get 90% of the way to your position by moving your feet to the ball, and then only 10% adjusting/reaching if the ball floats away from where you thought it would be.

Slow down your hitting approach

Lots of players want to run and hit really fast (especially if they’ve watched professional volleyball or Haikyu.)

It’s important to slow down and wait for the ball. If you approach to fast, you’ll end up under/in front of the ball, which is going to make it difficult to see both the ball and where the other team is lined up and will end up hitting out more often.