Volleyball Vocabulary in English

If you were a child in the ‘80s or the early ‘90s, you will definitely remember the cartoon Attacker You! This was the famous cry of the character You when she hit the ball: “Attack!” Perhaps as a child that cry sounded a bit like a personal phrase for the heroine, but in reality it is a technical term from volleyball. That is why, in fact, the original Japanese manga title is Attacker You!

Many technical volleyball terms used around the words are English words while others are just translations of the English term. Volleyball in its modern form was born in 1895 under the name of Mintonette. It was the creation of William Morgan, a physical education teacher at a YMCA in Massachusetts, USA. On 10 March, 1896, Alfred Halstead changed the name from Mintonette, which he thought was too feminine, to volleyball. The name says literally what players do in the game: volley the ball over the net. Since then, volleyball has become popular in YMCAs all over the United States and later throughout the world.

Next, we will give you a brief description of some of the technical terms from volleyball along with a description.

The Players

The first expression that comes to mind isfair play,” which literally means ‘clean game.’ This expression points out the moral rules of the game and implies respect for the opponents as well as all who participate. The players involved in a game of volleyball are as follows:

  • Setter: the person who sets up the team’s offense.
  • Attacker: the person who hits the ball with force in hopes of gaining a point in favour of their team.
  • Outside Hitter / Wing Spiker: the person who attacks from the left side of the court.
  • Middle Blocker: the player that attacks from the central part of the court.
  • Opposite Hitter: the player who attacks from both the first and the second row.
  • Libero: this player deals with reception and defence. It is interesting to note that the English term for this position comes from the Latin.

The Basics

In volleyball, there are some fundamentals of play. When we say “fundamentals,” we mean specific, basic actions that any volleyball player should know how to perform. In volleyball, the following are fundamentals:

  • Serve: one of the six basic skills, this is used to put the ball into play. This is the only ability controlled exclusively by one player.
  • Set: a tactical skill used to send the ball to a certain point so another player can send it to the opponent’s side of the court.
  • Attack: the offensive action of hitting the ball; the attempt of a team to score in the game by hitting the ball to the floor on the opponent’s side.
  • Block: the combination of several players who jump in front of an opponent’s spiker and that have contact with the ball with their hands.
  • Dig: passing the ball with a quick blow.
  • Forearm Pass / Bump: a blow made with a player’s arms instead of their hands.

Playing Techniques

In contemporary volleyball, various playing techniques are used. Let us look at the four that are considered fundamental:

  • Floating Serve: a blow given to the ball with a straight torso and the weight of the body on the right leg. This serve leaves the ball unstable and flying in an unpredictable direction.
  • Underhand Serve: this blow allows the ball to be placed easily with a fairly predictable trajectory. It is mandatory for children under 14, but higher levels tend not to use it.
  • Jump Serve: to hit the ball with your hand while in the middle of a jump. This is much more powerful than an underhand serve and also much more accurate.
  • Topspin: the ball is hit during a jump, well in front of the body.

English Words and Expressions

There are many volleyball phrases that are words in English that many other languages use without translation. Let’s look at some.

  • Set: each section into which the game is divided. There are a total of five, of which the first four are 25 points and the last is 15 points.
  • Tie-break: the last, and shortest, set in a match.
  • Set Point: the last action of a team before winning the game.
  • Pipe: a particular type of attack performed on the boundary of the three-metre line. It is difficult to execute and therefore requires a lot of skill. As it is an unpredictable blow, teammates should be warned in advance.
  • Ace: a serve that immediately touches the floor of the opponent’s side of the court, earning a point in favour of the serving team.
  • Time-out: s temporary suspension of play as requested by one team, usually to receive instructions from the captain or to change players.

Now that you know the basic vocabulary of volleyball in English, are you ready for your sporting adventure? If you feel the need to improve your English, you can count on ABA English. We offer 144 video classes, short films, and online exercises. Get ready today! Score a point with our English courses!

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One comment

  1. There’s certainly a lot to find out about this topic.

    I really like all the points you’ve made.

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