When playing any sport, you should to know the skills, the rules, and the etiquette. And all of these come with practice. There’s also the little things you pick up after you’ve been playing for a while, things that definitely come with experience. Here are 16 tips that you won’t see in the volleyball rule book, but will help you to score points – and will make you a better teammate, too!

1. Call mine, even when it seems obvious

One of the first things you learn in grade school volleyball is to call mine when you’re in position to take the volleyball. As you play in higher levels of volleyball, this becomes engrained, and you automatically call mine, even when it seems pretty obvious. For newer players, this instinct isn’t as natural. If the ball is coming to you, of course you’re going to get it! However, for some players, if they don’t hear someone calling “mine”, they may assume that the ball is still up for grabs – and someone needs to get it! Calling “mine” might seem silly, but after you’ve played in a few games, you’ll realize how common it actually is. So don’t be afraid to speak up and call for that ball!

2. Try to use all three hits

In volleyball, each team gets to touch the ball three times before they have to send it back over the net. (Well, technically, they get 4 hits, if one of those touches was a block.) Regardless, sometimes more inexperienced players might get nervous or intimidated by the ball and send the ball over the net before their team has maximized their 3 hits. Strategically, this could result in a missed scoring opportunity. The classic bump-set-spike play needs all three hits to be executed. So if a player is bumping the ball over the net with unused hits, they may be missing out on a scoring opportunity. Having said that, sometimes hitting the ball on the second hit can be its own strategy and could result in a point. However, what I’m getting at here is that players should think about when to send the ball over the net to maximize the scoring opportunity for their team, and that’s often using all three hits.

3. Don’t touch the second ball – unless the setter has called for help

While we’re on the topic of three touches, it’s a good time to remind players to let the setter take that second ball. The setter is a specialized position that takes the second ball and sets up the hitters. Sometimes that first bump can be off-target from where it’s supposed to go, and the setter has to run it down. And sometimes, that ball might be headed right towards one of the other players. While it might be tempting to just set the ball, the setter is the specialized player whose role it is to setup the hitters. And the thing with setters, is that they are usually FAST! They will very likely get to that second ball – after all, it’s what they’ve been trained to do! Even when they’re running to the ball, they will very likely be able to get a good set to one of the hitters. However, they’ve also been trained to know when it makes more sense to let a teammate take that second ball, and that’s when they’ll call out, “help”, signalling one of their teammates to step in and set instead. So, if the ball seems like it’s heading right towards you, just keep an ear open for the setter’s call of help, then step in and help out your teammate!

4. Don’t set the ball too close to the net

If the setter calls help and a non-setter player ends up having to set the ball, one of the most common errors they make is to set the ball too close to the net. This means that the hitter doesn’t get to use their full hitting approach, and their hitting options are more limited. In addition to being tricky to hit, a set that is too close to the net can also be somewhat unsafe, especially for less experienced hitters or blockers. If a hitter isn’t used to adjusting to a tight set, they may land in or under the net, potentially landing on the feet of the blockers. This is one of the most common ways of becoming injured in volleyball, often resulting in ankle or knee injuries. Instead of aiming right for the net, aim for about a foot away from the net. Even if it’s off target a little bit, this gives some buffer room. The hitter shouldn’t be expecting a perfect set from a non-setter player anyway, so they should be ready to adjust.

5. Don’t land on or under the net

As a newer player, you may not be getting as many sets, so it’s really tempting to hit as many spikes as you can. This is a great attitude, however, make sure you maintain a controlled hitting approach, and good spatial awareness of the net, including the area under the net. volleyball player jumping, wearing knee pads and ankle braces Many times, players are so focussed on hitting the ball, they don’t realize how close to the net they are getting. Remember, touching the net is a rule violation, and can cost your team a point. Even more importantly, however, is the safety aspect. If you’re landing in the net, or under the net, there’s a good chance you might land on someone else’s foot. So, even though it’s tempting to concentrate wholly on hitting the ball, remember to also work on your spatial awareness of how close you are getting to the net.

6. Don’t pass the ball too close to the net

setter tipping the ball over the net Another classic error is to pass (or bump) the ball too close to the net. This is sometimes referred to as an over bump. An over bump makes it really difficult for the setter to be able to set the ball – and even if they can salvage it to get a set, chances are they won’t be able to run any plays. Another reason not to bump too close to the net is that you might inadvertently be setting up the other team. Sometimes an over bump actually does go OVER the net – and if a player from the other team just happens to be in the right position, they may just be able to time a really nice hit. For their team, of course. To avoid over bumps, when you’re passing the ball, try to aim for about a foot off the net. This gives the setter some room. And you, as the passer, some leeway in your target.

7. Don’t catch the ball during a play

Okay, this one seems silly. Anyone who knows the rules of volleyball knows that you’re not supposed to catch the ball. However, if you’ve ever been at a volleyball game, especially a volleyball tournament, you’ll notice how LOUD it is. There’s players yelling, shoes squeaking on the gym floor, volleyballs bouncing, and referees on multiple courts blowing their whistles. In all this commotion, it’s easy for a player to THINK they heard the whistle blow, and to catch the ball to end the play. However, if you even have a tiny little doubt about whether or not you heard the whistle blow, KEEP PLAYING! Believe me, you will look a lot more foolish if you catch the ball during an active play than if you kept playing after the whistle was blown! Eventually, the players will figure it out, or the ref will blow their whistle again, and the play will end for real.

8. Always bring all the equipment you’re going to need – and maybe even some extra

Volleyball gear: jersey, sweat towel, water bottle, volleyball, knee pads, shoes, ankle braces, duffel bagVolleyball gear Volleyball gear Sure, it’s easy to forget to bring something every now and then. Happens to the best of us, in fact. However, don’t let it happen consistently. Make a point of using a checklist or packing your bag when you’re not in a rush, so that you can review to make sure you’ve got everything you need. There are somethings that you can borrow – clean socks, clean shorts, for example. And there are some things that you probably don’t want to share – for example, a water bottle, or a sweat towel. For more detailed information on what to pack in your gym bag, check out this article, “Essential gym bag items for a recreational indoor volleyball tournament”

9. Clean your gear!

Speaking of gear, make sure you’re cleaning it regularly. Of course, you’re going to wash your sports clothes. But I’m talking about your knee pads and ankle braces. After a game, don’t just throw them in your bag until next week’s game. Make sure that you’re airing them out and giving them a wash when they need it. YOU may not notice the odor, but trust me, volleyball gear can get NASTY if you don’t care for it!

10. Don’t wear the wrong gear

When you’re starting a new sport, it’s common to not have all the gear right from the start. You want to make sure that you actually enjoy the sport before you commit to buying gear that might be expensive. However, with volleyball, there are a couple things that you’ll want to keep in mind regarding gear, that probably won’t cost you any extra money. Volleyball is a court sport, which means that you’re going to want to wear indoor shoes. Even if you’re not buying specific volleyball shoes right away, do make sure that you’re not wearing outdoor shoes on the court. Any dirt or water that is tracked onto the playing surface can be a hazard, as it can cause players to slip when they’re running for the ball. They’re going to be looking up at the ball, not down at the ground. Indoor shoes should also be non-marking, so that the rubber doesn’t leave any skid marks on the gym floor. Knee pads aren’t mandatory, but they sometimes give new players a bit more confidence when diving for a ball. Just remember, however, that proper diving technique actually doesn’t mean dropping to your knees to bump. You should have more of a forward motion. Click here to read more about diving technique basics. Volleyball players tend to wear gym clothes that are more fitted than baggy. That’s often because you can get called for a net violation even if it’s your clothes that touched the net. You don’t have to wear a full spandex suit, but think about wearing more fitted, rather than baggy, gym clothes.

11. Don’t just jump straight up when blocking

Blocker jumping with forearms above the height of the net Many people think that when you’re blocking a spike, you just put your arms in the air and jump straight up. What you actually want to do is press your hands forward at the peak of your jump, as if you’re pushing against the volleyball as it’s being spiked. This push will actually give you a much stronger block and should prevent the momentum of the ball from just pushing right through your hands. Just make sure that you’re jumping high enough over the net, so that you’re pushing above the height of the net and not touching the net at all – otherwise you might be at risk of getting a net violation call.

12. Don’t get a foot violation when serving

Serving is the only time you get to start a play with complete control of the ball. So, you would think that no one would ever get a foot violation, since the player gets to decide how much room they need for their serve. While it doesn’t happen often, getting a foot violation when you’re serving is kind of embarrassing. And it doesn’t happen to just new players – experienced players can also misjudge where they’re standing when they start their serve. But regardless of how long you’ve been playing, when you hear the whistle blow on a foot violation, it’s a total “d’oh” moment. The best way to avoid this embarrassing call is to always take a look at the lines when you go back to serve, and make sure you’re starting back enough to give you the amount of room you need. You might also want to practice your serve outside of a game situation, so that you can judge how much room you need to serve, and get really comfortable with that amount of space.

13. Make sure you have a defensive position

A defensive position is the stance you take when the other team is getting ready to set up an attack and spike the ball over. Having a good defensive position means you can respond to that attack as quickly as possible. Standing with your arms clasped in front of you and legs straight is not a defensive position. This is a spectating position. A good defensive position means that the player’s arms are bent in front of them, so they can move quickly in any direction to respond to where the ball is going. The player’s legs are bent, they are bent forward at the waist, and they are leaning forward slightly. This forward lean is where the term, “on your toes” comes from. Being in a good defensive position is more than just being able to respond physically to the ball. It’s also being mentally ready to respond as well, and being able to anticipate where the ball is going. When a player is in a good defensive position, they’re recognizing that the ball may come towards them, and they’re ready to respond to it.

14. Always be ready for the ball

With 6 players on the court, and only 3 touches per play, that means that for every play there’s a minimum of 3 players who don’t get to touch the ball before it goes over. If you’re one of the 6 players on the court, don’t get caught spectating instead of playing! You never know when there’s going to be a bad pass that has be to run down, when a non-setter player has to set the ball, or which hitter is going to get the set. One of the most common ways of not being ready for the ball is for back-court players to not be ready to get a set. A back-court player could get a set because of a bad pass, or it could be a strategic set to mix up the attack. So, even when you’re in the back court, remember that back-court players can still get a set! Always be ready, even if it seems like you’re not going to be in the play.

15. Make sure you warm up

So many times, I’ve seen recreational league athletes arrive at a game late, rush to tie their shoes, and just jump on the court to play, without any kind of warmup. Putting on your indoor shoes definitely does not count as a warmup. A good warmup prepares muscles and ligaments to be used more strenuously for the upcoming physical activity, for two main purposes: 1) to contribute to better performance; and 2) to help prevent injury. The irony is, as you get older, you actually NEED to warmup even more. Muscles, joints, and ligaments may not be as pliable as they used to be, and not giving them a good warmup makes them more susceptible to injury. Getting injured is never a good thing. Not only can it prevent you from playing your favorite sports and activities, it can sideline you from your daily responsibilities as well. And, studies have shown older athletes can actually take longer to recover from an injury than younger athletes. volleyball blockers with taped fingers So, take the time to give yourself a good warm up to prepare for the game. A good practice is to consider the time you need for a warmup as just part of the total time required for the activity. For example, if game start is 7:30, make sure you get to the gym at 7:00, which gives you plenty of time to get your gear on and include a warmup.

16. And don’t forget to cool down, too!

Even though it’s tempting to head out for post-game bevvys right after the game is over, having a good cool down is just as important as a good warmup. This is when your muscles and ligaments are nice and warm, so doing a few good stretches will help the lactic acid from settling in and will help prevent soreness. A cool down doesn’t have to be complicated. Just include a few key stretches, really focusing on the muscles you’ve really used during the game. You can also use this time to chat with your teammates about how the game went – and to tease any teammates who got a foot violation when they served the ball! Keep these tips in mind the next time you hit the volleyball court. Even if you don’t have years of experience playing volleyball, these tips will help you feel more at home on the court. You’ve been playing volleyball for some time now, and you still are not seeing significant improvements. Your serve is falling short of passing the net, and your bumps are bumping out of bounds. The frustration causes you to ask, “how long does it take to become good at volleyball?” Satchel Paige, Major League Baseball pitcher, once said, “Never let your head hang down. Never give up and sit down and grieve. Find another way.” Instead of being aggravated and quitting because talent development takes a bit of time, find another way. Look at the problem in a new light, one which shows glimmers of hope. When asking how long it takes to become good at volleyball, a better question is, what is your level of commitment? What is your tolerance for practice? What natural skills do you possess? With so many factors impacting your progress, there cannot possibly be a set number of years. That said, some aspects are in your control.

How to get better at volleyball

Practice, practice, practice!

The more you practice, the better your chances at improving your game. Don’t aim for perfection – let’s face it, even the pros make mistakes sometimes. So set realistic goals to work towards during practice and games. If your spiking is weak, set a personal goal to improve your spiking, and work on your technique. Once you’ve got your technique down, challenge yourself by aiming for different spots on the court, or to work on hitting around the block. A lot of players find line shots more challenging (when you hit the ball straight down the side boundary), so try to work on developing this skill. Click Here for How to Practice Volleyball by Yourself

Support your teammates

It may seem odd to suggest supporting your teammates to improve your own game, but volleyball is a team sport, so the stronger the players on your team are, the stronger your overall team is. Volleyball isn’t about just athletic skill, it’s also about being a strong teammate. There are many times when a volleyball team get’s down during a game, and a great skill is to be able to swing that momentum back upwards. Show leadership on the court by playing hard and staying positive through the touch times. Trust me, it also makes the game more fun overall! Click Here for How to Be a Good Bench Player


The more serious you are about improving your game, the more likely it is that you’ll actually get better. If the only time you wish you were better is after a rally when you’ve lost a point, then you’re not committed enough. If you really want to get better, you’ll train outside of practice and during the offseason, you’ll eat more nutritiously, and you’ll learn more about the game itself. Even watching other players is a great way to pick up some tips and pointers.

Play to your advantage

If you’ve been playing volleyball for a while, you’ll know that there are different positions on the court. Most players naturally gravitate to some positions. For example, taller players tend to play as middle hitters, because their height is an advantage for both hitting and blocking. Similarly, you’ll often see the defensive libero position is a shorter player, who often tends to be more agile and fast. Note that this isn’t always the case, but generally speaking. Take a review of your natural athletic abilities, and try to choose the position you are most suited for. That doesn’t mean you’re stuck playing that position forever, but it will give you an advantage as you’re learning. Click Here for A Simple Guide to Volleyball Positions and Rotations

Get advice on how to improve

If you’re really serious about improving your game, get some impartial advice. Ask your coach, or another player whose advice you respect. Be ready to hear some constructive criticism, and don’t take it personally! Being a good player means being coachable. In other words, hearing ways that you can improve. Implement the advice, but don’t expect it to stick right away. You need to keep practicing until it becomes second nature. If you don’t have a coach or another player you can ask, you can record yourself and watch yourself playing. You might be amazed at how differently you’re playing from what you thought! Watching a recording of yourself is a great way to catch little bad habits you’ve developed, or to identify areas where you can improve. It’s also a great motivator, when you watch it months later, to see how far you’ve come!

Off-season training

If a season lasts three to four months, it is not reasonable to think practicing how to switch from Netflix to Prime quickly will translate to changing from blocking to digging. What you do in the off-season impacts your volleyball growth quicker or slower than your peers.

Mental health

A tough season yields a temporary break from volleyball. That doesn’t mean to stop working out. Mix up your regular work out. Maybe focus on yoga, gym classes, spinning, or even some long bike rides instead of volleyball. By leaving the season and going straight into regular volleyball training, you give yourself no time to reflect, relax, and recharge. This is a sure-fire way to ensure burn-out. Allow ease to your workouts and take time to visit those you have not seen in a bit.

Signs of burnout

The following is not intended to be a complete list. Some of the below signs may indicate you are experiencing burn out. They could also be symptoms of something more substantial, so consult medical professionals if necessary.

  • School or sports performance decreasing or lack of enthusiasm
  • Persistent pain or increased injuries
  • Mood changes or depression
  • Fatigue or sleep changes
  • Difficulty with routines previously completed
  • Changes in appetite or weight

Goal setting

Most athletes have at least heard about goal setting. Reflect on your season. What went well, and what did not? Was there a particular skill you struggled with the most? What do you think is holding you back? Are you hoping to make a specific team or be a key position? When you identify what you want out of volleyball and what you feel you could improve upon, your off-season training becomes more focused and less haphazard. Look into camps focusing on the skills needing developing. If it is a mental game, download podcasts on the internal preparation of athletes. If it is merely your athleticism, talk to your coaches or trainers about workouts or private lessons. When you identify your goals, you pinpoint what to do to reach them. Without this, you may as well plan a cross country trip with no map or GPS. You are leaving your fate to the road that just happens to be in front of you.

Strength training

Plyometrics and strength training will help build up the off-season’s muscles to prevent you from getting injured during the season. Plyometrics focuses on the jumping aspect of your game. Exercises like squat, hurdle, and tuck jumps, frog leaps, high knees, and wall throws with a medicine ball are all plyometric exercises. Resistance bands can be added to increase the intensity. Working with a trainer enables you to key in on how often you should be doing these types of exercises to avoid overtraining and injury pre-season.

Joining a club or a rec team

One of the most straightforward things you can do during the off-season is simply to join a club or a rec team. As mentioned earlier, if you are experiencing burn-out, then maybe this option is not for you. However, if you are fresh off the season and ready to keep going, look into local clubs. By playing with another team, a few things happen. First, you gain experience. This is key for testing out new techniques and working through issue spots. The more experiences you have, the quicker you will see vast improvements. Second, you are likely going to be playing with a new team of people, which is crucial for becoming a well-rounded player. By only encountering the same people, when you have a new teammate, you may not know how to read them to adjust to their style. If you move or try out for a new team, you need to mesh with that team and their style. By playing with a variety of people, you gain skills allowing you to adapt and read players. Finally, learn from your new coaches. You may love your current coaches and believe they have the best tips out there. The truth is, every coach has their own set of tricks for teaching skills. What you struggled with while playing this current season, a new coach may have the magic touch in explanation. For some reason, the way this coach describes the exact same skill may simply click with you. Further, you could find a new coach who brings about technique advice you have not yet come across. Take this new advice and your developed skills to your team when you return next season. Click here for How to Find a Recreational Volleyball league in your Community Some players worry they are being disloyal to their team by joining a different one in the off-season. That is not the case. By working to improve your skill, you only succeed in driving your team to a higher level during the season. Coaches of sound caliber will not be insulted by you joining another team in the off-season.

Youth Development Timelines

Depending on your age, volleyball skills may be hindered by your natural development. Youth are not small adults. Their abilities are maturing along with their understanding of the mechanics of the game. Factors such as coordination and balance and growth spurts and injury potential are continually changing. This has an impact on how long it takes to sharpen your skills.

Hand-eye coordination

Starting around five months, babies begin to acquire hand-eye coordination. Until 2 ½ months, they are too near-sited to track an object. From that point until four to five months, they quickly make strides. You are not going to see babies playing volleyball, but the idea that hand-eye coordination is not a birth skill is good to remember. It will continue to grow as children and teens. When they reach nine years old, children can use each hand independently. At eleven, these skills have the ability to be developed through team sports. By sixteen, athletes begin to fine-tune this development milestone to have quick reaction times to outside stimuli. At each stage of adolescence, players must work to develop what is not yet naturally reached. Volleyball is an excellent sport to create this hand-eye coordination.

Growth Spurts

Right about the time that hand-eye coordination starts to fine-tune with the help of sports, growth spurts happen. During these moments of stretching out, it is typical to become a bit clumsy. Bad news? Clumsiness equates to an increased chance of injury. With balance skills thrown off, youth who may have perfected a particular skill, say blocking, now have to relearn the skill with their new body shape. Their landing may feel differently, or the ball may not hit their arms in the same spot. Imagine digging for a spike but being off-kilter and falling instead of gracefully timing your efforts. Further, new muscle mass can throw off your serve or bump. Where once you had to use a certain amount of force to execute your hits, now that same force may cause a much larger reaction. This will likely equate to temporary delays in your accuracy as balls go out of bounds.

Growth plates and ACL

Growth plate injuries and ACL tears are some of the more common injuries associated with youth development and sports. The growth plate injuries, regularly fractures, can be caused by overuse or repetitive motions. This knowledge is especially important to keep in mind considering volleyball is a lot of jumping and landing. ACL injuries are especially common with girls, starting around the age of 12. Due to the way girls develop versus boys, they are more prone to these types of injuries. During puberty, testosterone is higher in boys, accounting for the ability to have more protection due to increased muscle mass. Girls do not have the same protections and so the ability to be injured increases. Should you be injured, physical therapy and rehab are going to cost you time. The time that you should have spent growing your skills will now be replaced with bandages and ice. It’s a set-back that you can recover from, but time away makes you have to work harder to catch up when you are healthy. Click Here for Common Volleyball Injuries and How to Prevent Them As you can see, there is no straight answer to this question. The time to develop depends on both controllable and uncontrollable factors. Development of body and mind come at different paces for each person. What matters most is you honestly evaluate your skills and develop goals to reach a higher level. Put the work in, change what you can, and work through what you cannot. When you focus on those aspects instead of a time frame, you won’t stop at merely “good.” Make sure you follow the coach and your fitness/nutrition expert unconditionally in all the aspects. To be an efficient volleyball player, it is important to practice playing from all the positions from being a right-side hitter, setter; middle blocker, opposite and outside hitter to being a Libero. Balancing of right and left feet to your body’s center of gravity is very important. Learn how to balance the stance while serving. Consistency in listening, understanding, analyzing, and coordinating with a team can help you to improve your skills massively. It can shape you into a fast-paced player who can be prepared for the dynamic role (passing, spiking, bumping, and volleying, etc. Jump-rope is one way of strengthening the upper and lower body muscles as well as increasing cardiovascular health. Concentration development for watching the serving height, ball trajectory and speed, team member position, and the ball float is the most important aspect of improving team coordination and developing into a dependable player.

5. Learning to Block

A combination of a single foot, two feet, and a crossover for two minutes can be helpful. It can help you to increase team coordination and watching the opponents’ movements during the game. The other key parameters are feet direction and space, target focus, arm swing, ball tossing angle calculation of air-resistance (if any) and angle of serve. Jumping, ball handling, shoulder, arm and hand positioning, and ball watching are the most critical parts for practicing ball blocking. Shoulder and arm exercises like dumbbell arm swing, military-press, and pushups can help to practice power hitting.

3. Perfecting Passes

1. Improve your physical fitness

Slow-motion training can help you to increase the awareness and agility of your mind on the volleyball court. On-court practices of spiking, returning, and power-hitting are some of the exercises that can help to improve into a point winning player. It is a great way to be able to think from all positions for improving individual skills and team coordination to perfection. In order to do that, you will to get yourself a good volleyball portable net to practice at your backyard to massively improve your skills as a volleyball player. The practice of serving types like underhand, floater, jump, and topspin can help to improve the “ace” serve. The following seven tips can help you to achieve these goals consistently with continuous improvement. Sprint running for 40-50 yards at your maximum speed for 15 minutes with 30 seconds break helps you to improve physical stamina and endurance. Dumbbell snatch, overhead-triceps, single-head-RDL, dumbbell-squat, shoulder and leg stretches, and overhead press are some of the regular workouts for volleyball players that can increase your muscle strength for serving, returning, and playing to your full potential.

6. Training on Power Hits

7. Dynamic Position Shifting

Locking of elbows, shoulder and arm position, and balancing of body postures while passing are critical for maturing into a responsible player. Absolute synchronization between the body and mind of the players, coupled with dynamic team coordination and reading the opponents are the key skills to make a great volleyball player.

2. Practicing Serve

4. Try slow-motion training

Training for the proper position of fingers and wrists, court penetration, and body posture while blocking can help you to become an efficient player.

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