Passing or bumping is the main hit when it comes to playing volleyball. This move is executed when your arms are stretched out and held together by your hands to create a flat, even surface for the volleyball to bounce off of.
Players should take the time to practice a few different volleyball passing drills to help them learn how to better control passing the ball.
When in action, passing the ball is also called a bump, since the ball bounces off your flat arm surface. This is usually the first hit of a bump, set, spike setup.
Practice Being Ready
You must first be in a low position with your feet apart and knees slightly bent.
Your bottom and your heels should be parallel to each other while your torso is angled forward.
Your dominant foot should also be slightly forward to help balance you out.
When you are passing the ball, you are using your whole body to perform this action:
To practice this stance you should find a wall to lean against. Stand with your back to the wall, your heels about an inch away from the baseboard. Then do a wall sit, when you sit with your back straight against the wall and your legs bent.
Now, pull your torso forward, lifting your back off of the wall. When you do this, your butt will go up the wall an inch or two, so that you are now against the wall but no longer sitting.
This is the down and ready position. Knees bent, torso forward, feet apart and eyes up watching for the ball.
In this position, make sure your hands are apart, not in the full passing position. This is important because while you may be anticipating a bump, you could actually be facing a set.
A bump will be a ball that is coming below your face. If the ball is angled higher and you have to back up dramatically to bump it, then it is easier to lift your hands up and set it. When doing this move, it is helpful to wear top reviewed volleyball shoes with traction to give you more stability on the court.
Know How to Pass
Now that you are in position, it’s time to pass the ball. The most important thing is to remember to not swing your arms like a baseball bat.
Instead to pass the “swinging” movement will come from your elbows.
In ready position, your hands are not together. As the ball comes to you, begin bringing your hands together and then straighten your elbows. The act of straightening your elbows will move your arms forward and up to meet the ball.
This easy momentum will meet the ball and send it forward. If you are swinging at the ball from your upper or forearms working then you will notice the ball doesn’t go where it is supposed to. This is because you are adding in a one arm dominant swing which propels the ball in a sideways direction.
You will also need to move to the ball by taking a step forwards, backwards or to the side. This will help you keep the pass in the correct hitting zone. This zone is the area between your inner elbows and your wrists.
Receiving a pass higher than your elbows makes for an awkward hit that doesn’t always go the right way. Hitting too low on your hands will make the ball fly off in a wild way. This is because your hands are not a flat surface like your ideal zone forearms. The ball will hit and rebound off of a jutting area on your hand and will not give you a controlled pass.
Passing Drills Explained
Pass Position Drill
There is a fun volleyball passing drill that you can do to make sure your players are staying in the correct position.
Toss the ball up and have players move to the ball like they are going to pass it. Have them be in the ready position, but keep their hands apart. This is because the aim of the drill is to have the ball bounce between their legs.
If they move the the ball then the ball will fall directly in front of them and then bounce through their legs. This is a great drill to show your players how to move to the ball and be in the right low and forward position to pass the ball.
Once your players know the proper way to be in ready position and how to accurately pass the ball then you can move onto more contact passing drills. Try to have more advanced players or helpers run some of the drills so that coaches are able to walk around and offer volleyball tips for passing to players that are needing extra help.
You can also pull some players aside and work with them one on one during the drills to help them learn a little faster or to adjust a technique.
Basic Volleyball Pass Drill
The most basic volleyball passing drills are target based drills. This is when you line up the players in two or three lines on the back row. You will then place a setter in the front middle setting position and the setter will be the ball handler in this drill.
To start, the setter will toss the ball to the first player in either line. The player will then need to call the ball and perform a successful pass to the setter.
Especially if this is high school or above volleyball then you need to make sure some key communication is happening. Make sure that each player is being vocal and calling the ball before the hit. If anyone does not call the ball or speak during the play then that person needs to be pulled out of the drill and asked to perform a quick burst exercise such as mountain climbers, crunches or jumping jacks.
This is to show them that calling the ball is not an optional task. Volleyball needs communication to work since the players are usually looking up at the ball and not at each other during the plays.
After the setter sends the ball, that player needs to call for the ball to come back to them by either saying “Target” or “Here.” This helps less advanced players remember where they are sending the ball.
You will also want your setter to instruct the players on if they are sending the ball high enough. The point of passing the ball for a set is to send it high so that the setter has time to get to it and get underneath it for a set. Have your setter give feedback to each hitter, telling them if it was a good pass or if they need to adjust.
Coaches can do this for lower level players. When it comes to varsity and higher levels, you really want to build a more vocal setter and team dynamic. They will be on the court together playing in more intense situations.
To up this simple starting drill, you can add in an outside hitter to the mix. The hitter will be set up by the setter and will then send controlled down balls to the lines. While the setter can send back not as easy to pass balls to make the lines move, adding in a hitter lets the players in the passing lines see the bump, set, hit play out each time the drill is run.
Accuracy Pass Drill
You can add in different dynamics to each volleyball passing drill. These help give your players a better sense of accuracy while they are passing.
To break away from the standard passing drills, it is good to add in a wilder pass. This can help your players learn how to get the ball back under control.
To do this, “Wild Ball Drill” you will want to set up your six players on the court in a ready position. The coach or tosser will stand on the same side of the court and will throw a wild ball out of bounds.
This is to demonstrate what happens when a pass doesn’t go as planned and the ball is sent wildly in the wrong direction, sometimes even high and out of bounds.
The tosser will call that the first hit. The players on the court have two hits left to get the ball back to the middle of the court and one hit to get it over.
It is important to let the wild ball chasers know that their target is to get it to the middle of the court. This is because the setter should stay within that area, ready to receive the ball and send it over for the final hit.
The final hit needs to either be a pass or a set. It is not a good idea to spike the ball since you won’t be getting a good set coming from the outside.
As always your players can use their best judgement, but for accuracy and best chances of scoring, a pass or set to the other teams back row is preferred.
Trying to send the ball over the net on the second hit just adds in more chaos. The ball is going wild and will need to be under control before you send it. Ensure your hit won’t continue in chaos and be sent out of bounds, giving the other team a point.
As with any volleyball drill, make sure your team is talking. The second hit should always be the setter’s ball. But, on a wild hit, the setter can’t always get to it. Setters need to call out help, and then call for the final hit if possible.
Players chasing down the ball need to talk and state if they have it or not. This is because there should be more than one player moving to the ball, if not chasing it down. Collisions will occur if no players talk to one another.
Fun Volleyball Pass Drill
An advanced passing drill that is fun is the “Russian Passing Drill.” This drill is perfect for high school and college players that want to be challenged to move and react.
Set up like the school game Monkey in the Middle. You will have one passing player standing between two tossers that are on either side. Each tosser will take turns throwing a high ball for the passer to move to and then send back to the tosser.
Once the player passes one ball they will have to then turn and be ready for the other tosser who is sending them a ball.
The result is that the player in the middle will be constantly moving forwards turning and then moving backwards to get into position to hit the next ball. Unless this is a lower level player, the drill should not allow time for the player to stop and get into a ready position.
After ten successful passes you can switch out the passer with a tosser and continue until all three have completed the drill.
This drill is excellent for promoting the players being able to think on their feet. They can learn how to move quickly to the ball.
The tossers are also encouraged not to give them easy balls. If the passer is getting to the ball easy then the tossers need to send the ball shorter or further away to really make them move.
Try to pair up different skill level players with each other. Move advanced players can help the ones who are not as high of a skill level.
This varying level team up should be practiced throughout different partner drills. This will help your teammates learn to teach and help them also learn from each other. When they are interacting on different levels, then this helps you build a closer team dynamic which in turn makes it easier for everyone to communicate on the court and help build each other up after difficult plays.
A closer team is also better at anticipating each others moves and knowing where to be in order to receive a pass or set from each player.
When it comes to learning passing drills it all starts with your positioning. Make sure players are staying low and ready for the ball. You will also want to make sure that your players are communicating on the court with one another.