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Learning Volleyball Digging Skills – Digging Hard Driven Ball



Explore volleyball digging skills and learn how to defend hard driven spikes. 

When digging powerful volleyball spikes, the player should use the following "higher contact point" or “volleyball scoop” technique.


What is the goal of defensive player?

The goal is not just to dig the ball up - the defensive player needs to give setter the opportunity to use all possible variations in offense.  Volleyball Digging Techniques

The defender should not take too many risks either. When digging extremely hard driven ball the defender should aim the ball a little bit off the net – to avoid passing the ball to the other side of the net. The defender should never give other team a free ball or a “penalty hit”.

How to learn to defend those hard spikes?

Volleyball Digging Skills - Defending Hard Driven Spikes

Keeping Contact Point HigherVolleyball Digging Skils - Digging the Ball Straight Up

In order to keep the ball on the own side, the platform may need to kept “higher” on the level of the shoulders, “pointing towards sealing” (NOT pointing towards setter/net or the opponent’s side!!). 

Keeping the platform higher helps defenders to dig the ball straight up.


Do NOT Sit Back - Do NOT Put the Weight on the Heels!Volleyball Digging Skills

Important tip! When practicing to dig hard driven spikes, it is important to pay attention that players doesn't have all the weight on the heels while staying in the low sitting position.  

Keep feet a slightly wider than a shoulder-width, then your feet feel light when the center of the gravity is somewhere between your feet.

Have the weight evenly on the foot - or maybe a little bit more on the toes than your heels - absolutely do not put the weight on the heels. Often on the court, you need to be in the position to move quickly forward, if the opponent tips or the ball falls in front of you.

Have light feet and be ready to move quickly!

Players need to be ready to move quickly under the ball which reflects and changes direction. If the player has the weight on the heels, s/he is not able to move quickly after a tip or roll. Beginning volleyball players often put the weight on the heel when defending a hard driven ball.


Volleyball Digging Skills - "One Legged Squat" Technique

Volleyball Digging TechniquesThis technique is extremly useful to dig low balls which fall fairly close to you.

Often when the player is in the low defensive position, the block slows down the spike, or the spiker rolls or tips the ball - and the ball falls in front of the defender.

The player needs to take a quick step to get under the low ball. Volleyball Digging Techniques - One Legged Squat Dig The player could take a low long step and lower him/herself into one legged squat position - and reach far forward by lowering your upper body paraller to the leg.

In order to perform this digging technique successfully, the player needs to be quite athletic and have lots of power in the legs and the core (abs, back and hips).

The player may want to perform a sideways roll after digging the ball. Read more in the "Volleyball Digging Skills - Diving"-section.

Volleyball Digging Skills – Scoop

If the ball is hit near the defender’s feet - on the low level in front of the defender – which often happens when the defender is late and is not fully prepared for the sudden volleyball spike – players should try to save the ball with the “scoop”.

What is Volleyball Scoop?

The player observes the ball approaching fast and dropping in front of him/her. The only way to save the ball is to scoop the ball up.

The player joins hands together for this two-hand dig and bends forward toward the approaching ball. This position is not very comfortable. It is like the regular "ready stance", but upper body has been dropped down, pushing it "between the legs".Volleyball Digging Skills - Scoop

The player reaches toward the ball which is about the hit the ground in front of the digger. The player scoops the ball with slightly bent arms – to be exact the player bends the elbows and wrists to form "a scoop".

The player should contact the ball with wrist/thumb area - and have the wrist slightly bent.

When scooping the player is not able to control and direct the ball therefore it should be used as an emergency hit only. The purpose of it is just to save the ball from falling into the court.


Volleyball Digging Skills - Playing the Ball by the Foot

Since the rule changes in 2000’s, players have been allowed to play the ball by the foot.

In some situations the kick could be more appropriate than playing by arms – sometimes the kick is the only solution to save the ball.

When to Play the Ball by the Foot?

Back Court Kick

Players use the kick to play the ball when it rebounds from the defense or block far back behind the court. The players sprints back after the ball and returns the ball with a kick over her own head into the court.

Ball falls quickly near the player

The kick can be a proper way to play the ball when the player fails to be on the low defensive position and the low ball falls quickly near the player.

One situation in which there is no time to get into low defensive position to play the ball is when the ball falls between the net and the block – and the kick could be the only option to save the ball.


Volleyball Digging Skills Related Pages

Check out volleyball digging page to learn how to dig the ball on the left or right side.








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