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Beach Volleyball Terminology

Learn the Lingo

Ace: A serve that scores without any opponent touching the ball and also when the first hit is unreturnable.


Antennae: The little rods that go up on the net that define the width of the attacking area. Any ball has to be hit across the net between both antennae. The ball is out of bounds if it touches the antennae or crosses over the net outside them. They can also be known as aerials.


Approach: The path a hitter takes to the net before jumping to hit the ball.
Attack: To hit the ball into the other side of the court.


Attacker: Also known as a hitter or a spiker; this is the player who attempts to hit a ball offensively over the net.


Attack Error: An unsuccessful hit is a result of one of three things: 1) the ball goes out of bounds, 2) the ball goes into the net, or 3) the ball is blocked by the other side.


Backhand Dig: A low hit of a hard-driven spike using the back of an outstretched hand.


Back Set: A set made in the direction opposite of which he or she is facing.


Block: To block an opposing player from spiking the ball by jumping at the net with arms in the air.


Block Penetration: Reaching across the net with your hands and breaking the plane of the net above the height of the net in an effort to block.


Boom: A ball spiked straight down in the sand.


Bump Pass: A pass with both arms together where the ball bumps off the forearms.


Butter: A perfect Set


Carry: a misplayed ball involving prolonged contact; also known as a lift or throw.


Chicken Wing: When a defending player is forced to react very quickly to a ball coming at their upper torso, the player may lift a bent arm in the shape of a chicken wing to dig the ball.


Change Up: Altering either the speed of the ball or the distance it travels during the serve in such a way that the opponent doesn’t recognize the change immediately.


Cobra: With the fingers extended straight and stiff, the ball is poked with the fingertips.


Co-Ed: A team consisting of one male and one female player.


Court: The playing area including the boundary lines but not including the service area.


Cut Shot: These attack shots travel over the net at sharp angles, right to left or left to right and typically close to the net.


Deep Dish: A set that is held long and typically set from below the shoulders.


Dig: A defensive contact following an opponent’s attack resulting in a playable ball.


Dime: A perfect pass.


Double: A fault in which a player contacts the ball with two body parts consecutively.


Down Ball: An attacked ball from the opponent that the blocker assesses as being contacted too deep and it does not require a block attempt.


End Line: The back boundary line of the court.


Facial: When the defending player gets hit in the face from an attack by the opposing team.


Tattoo: After a defender gets hit by a hard driven ball, the tattoo would refer to marks left on the skin of the hit player by the seams or lettering of the ball.


Fish: A player who gets caught in the net.


Floater: A non-spinning flat serve.


Foot Fault: The penalty incurred when the server’s foot touches the end line before contacting the ball.


Foul: Any violation of the rules.


Free Ball: A ball that is passed over the net because an attack wasn’t possible.


Friendly Fire: Being hit in the head by a teammate’s serve.


Gator: A defensive digging technique in the defense of a hard hit ball. The hands are formed into the shape of 2 gator jaws (One hand on top of the other).


Good Side: The side opposite the direction of the wind.


Heat: Speed on a serve or a hard hit ball.


Roof: Also a stuff, when the defensive player blocks a ball so hard that it is immediately returned to the hitter and goes straight to the sand.


Husband and Wife: When a serve drops in the middle of the court between both players because the players can’t decide who will pass it.


Joust: Tow opposing players simultaneously make contact with the ball above the net.


Jump Float: A float serve with a jump.


Jump Serve: Serving player tosses the ball in the air and into the court and uses an attack approach to jump and serve the ball.  


Kill: A hard shot angled downward that the opposing side is unable to return.


Kong: A one-handed block.


Let Serve: A serve that hits the net and continues across into the opponent’s court.


Lift: illegally holding a ball during a contact.


Line Shot: A ball attacked down the sideline on the opponent’s court.


Match Point: When a team is serving and is only 1 point away from winning the game.


Nail: A perfect pass.


Net Fault: An illegal act whereby a player touches the net while the ball is in play.


Off-Speed Hit: Spike performed with a slower arm speed to change the pace of the offense. Normally the ball has a lot of spin.


Over Set: A ball that is accidentally set across the net.


Paintbrush: A misshit when a player attempts to spike or hit the ball with the open hand and nearly misses the ball only contacting the ball with his/her fingers.


Pepper: A warm-up drill in which two player pass, set, and hit the ball back and forth.


Peeling / Pulling: The decision for the blocker to pull off the net or peel back and not jump to block.


Platform: The contact area created by placing the wrist and thumbs together to perform a pass or underhand dig.


Poke / Pokey: A ball contacted with the knuckles, use to attack or defend.


Rainbow: A shot that is hit over the head of the defender to the far corner. Also known as a Jumbo Shrimp (due to the arc of the shot).


Rally: The exchange of plays that decides each point.


Rally Point Scoring: A point is recorded for every single rally no matter who is serving. Unforced errors or missed serves also result in a point for the other team.


Ready Position: The flexed, yet comfortable posture a player assumes before moving the point of contact.


Red Card: A severe penalty given by the official to a player or coach. When the penalty occurs, the official will display a red card which, depending on the rule set, can cost a point or a player being disqualified.


Co-Ed: A team consisting of one male and one female player.


Roll Shot: An attacker hits the st softly putting topspin on the ball so that it will clear the block and drop quickly and directly over the block.


Roundhouse: Type of attack shot played with the arm fully extended above the head.


Scoop: A one armed dig with a scooping motion to get the ball up.


Screen: An act by the players of the serving team that positions one player in between the server and an opponent in an attempt to block the opponent’s view of the server.


Seal the Net: Performed by a blocker who gets his/her hands quickly over the net.


Serve: The skill used to put the ball in play at the start of each rally.


Service Error: An unsuccessful serve, in the net, out of bounds, or a foot fault.


Setter: The play whose primary responsibility is to get to the ball on the second contact and place it for the hitter to attack.


Shag the balls: Picking up and collecting scattered volleyballs.


Shank: When a player unintentionally passes a ball in a manner that is unplayable to his/her teammate.


Shoot Set: It is a set played fast and low across the court; usually avoiding your opponent from setting up a good block.


Shot: An offensive play in which a set ball is directed to an open area of the court, rather than being spiked hard.


Sideline: A side boundary line on a court.


Side Out: Occurs when the receiving team successfully puts the ball away against the serving team, or when the serving team commits an unforced error, and the receiving team thus gains the right to serve.


Six Pack: Occurs when a blocker or defender gets hit in the head or face by a spike ball.


Six Seam: the cross court angle the digger lines up on just outside the inside hand of their blocker.


Sky Ball: A unique underhand serve in which the ball is shot unusually high into the air above the opposing team’s court. Generally used when the sun could play into blocking the opponent’s view of the ball.


Soft Block: Block used to slow down the ball by relaxing or tilting the hands back.


Spade: An ace serve.


Spike: When an offensive player attacks the ball with a one-arm motion done over the head, attempting to get a kill.


Spin Serve: A serve in which the ball is contacted just below the horizontal midline by the heel of the hand. Wrist snap draws the fingers over the ball to impart spin.


Stuffed: A ball that is deflected back to the attacking team’s floor by the opponent’s blocker.


Telegraph: To give away one’s intention to the opponents.


Tape: The top of the net.


Throw: Chaning the direction of a volleyball by grabbing it and throwing it. Also known as lift, held ball, grab, chowder, double contact.


Tight Set: A set no more than 1 foot away from the net.


Tool / Use: An attack which is deflected off an opponent during a block and is unplayable resulting in a point for the attacking team.


Transition: The change from defense to offense, or vice versa.


Trap set: A ball set too close to the net where the hitter typically gets stuffed.


Tuna: A player who commits a very flagrant net violation.


Tweener: A split blocker, can play both front and back defense.


Underhand Serve: Serve which is put into play with the underhand striking motion.


Wipe/ Swipe: When one player pushes the ball against the opponents block and physically wipes the ball out of bounds. Similar to a tool.


Wrist Away: a cut shot to your outside edge so that your thumb goes down as you shoot the ball.


Yellow Card: A card the official will pull out to give a warning to a player or coach. Subsequent yellow cards given to a single player or coach can result in disqualification from the match.


Zones: Designated areas of the court or net primarily to indicate target areas for serving.