What Is a Shank in Volleyball?

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Experienced volleyball players often use words that could be confusing to beginners. If you’re interested in this, you might want to learn what a volleyball shank is, along with other similar terms.

What Is a Shank in Volleyball?

In volleyball, a shank refers to a player’s mishit of the ball, which either sends it out of bounds or makes it difficult for their teammates to play. This often occurs when the player isn’t ready to receive the ball, which indicates that it wasn’t properly focused.

A man wearing a blue jersey and red shorts with a gray cap mishit the volleyball on the beach

However, focused players are also capable of making a shank; after all, even professional athletes commit mistakes. For example, it is common to shank when receiving a serve; if the serve is strong, it may be difficult for you to bump it, which may cause you to send the ball out of bounds.

On top of that, indecision is one of the elements that affect players when making a shank. It doesn’t matter how focused you are if you are not sure when, or how, to hit the ball. This is why it is common for beginners to commit this mistake.

Reasons Why Players Commit Shanks

To properly know what a shank is, players need to understand the elements that can affect their hits. For example, bad positioning can mess up your passes and bumps, making you more prone to shanks. Of course, the same goes for bad technique and indecision.

Another reason why players commit this mistake is bad communication. In volleyball, it is very important for players to communicate when they are about to hit, bump, pass, or set the ball. If not, the team can get confused, which leads to disorganization, and ultimately, a shank.

For example, if a ball is coming towards your court and you think your teammate will hit it, you will trust them and disengage from the play. Therefore, if your teammate decides to let you hit the ball without communicating it, you won’t be prepared, causing you to shank.

How to Stop Shanking

If you are a beginner, you are probably getting familiar with what ‘’shanking’’ is in volleyball. This could cause you to get insecure about your hits and passes, which can lead to further problems in your volleyball career. Here you can see some tips on how to stop shanking.

  • Properly square up your body. This will allow you to react faster when the ball is coming toward you.
  • When bumping, build a proper platform with your arms. This platform will allow you to receive serves without sending the ball out of bounds.
  • Communicate every time you will hit the ball. You can do this by screaming ‘’Mine’’ or ‘’Got it’’ prior to receiving the ball and passing it. This will let you, and your teammates know that you are about to hit the ball.
  • Be more certain. This goes along with communicating; you need to be certain that you will reach the ball and hit it before anyone else. If you are doubtful, your teammates will sense it, causing your whole team to disorganize.
  • Keep your eyes on the volleyball and position yourself behind it.
  • Move. Even though this sounds obvious, some players think that the ball is going directly towards them, which is not the case. You need to use your feet to position yourself before hitting the ball.
Two volleyball players wearing blue jerseys discussing with each other on the volleyball court

Aim Properly

Even if you reach the ball and bump it, you need to think about where the ball should go. Some players just hit it, or bump it without a plan, which could lead to a shank. To avoid this, you need to think about where to send the ball prior to hitting it.

For instance, you must send the ball to the setter if you just received it. By doing so, they will be able to pass the ball to a hitter, who will then spike it.

Related Questions

Here are some related questions about shanking in volleyball.

Why Can’t I Stop Shanking the Ball?

Even if you are trying to stop committing shanks, there is an important factor that always affects your performance: your mind. If you are feeling stuck, depressed, or tired, your performance will reflect it. This is why it is important to take breaks and relax from time to time.

Which Volleyball Position Shanks the Most?

In volleyball, one of the positions that tend to commit shanks the most is the libero. This position is in charge of keeping the ball alive at all times, which is why they might commit mistakes when trying to perform difficult passes.

Can a Shank Be Saved?

Yes, a shank can be saved by one of your teammates. However, this would leave your team with one touch left, which is a compromising situation. In these cases, the team can lose the point by hitting the ball more than three times.


When it comes to terms and lingo, volleyball has a lot of complex words that might confuse beginners. In this case, ‘’shank’’ is commonly used to refer to mishits, bad bumps, and bad passes.

Alfonso Andrade is an avid sportsman, growing up playing soccer and volleyball. He is a coach and sports analyst, studying the game to analyze performance and help create improvement.