How to improve passing skills in volleyball (1)

Have you been frustrated with your passing? Look no further, I am here to give you some tips to improve your passing skills. First, like anything in volleyball, your vision is the most important thing. Secondly, you must have a clear target in mind. Thirdly, you must see the trajectory of the ball and make a move to receive the ball. Last but not least, you must use your platform effectively.

5 Keys to become better at passing a volleyball

1. Volleyball passing: See the line:

This may seem obvious, but identifying the line of the serve is crucial to being a good receiver. Where is the server serving from? Where do they like to serve? What kind of serve are they doing and most importantly, what does their body look like in relation to the ball?

Start out by identifying what kind of serve your opponent is going to give you. This will tell you the earliest what kind of platform and touch you need to perform on the ball. Do you need to take power off or give power? Do you need to make a sharp angle for the ball or one that is more parallel to the floor? These are the sorts of questions you can learn to filter through your mind when you’re prepping for the reception. It also helps you and your teammates identify possible outcomes, strengthening communication!

Next, where does the server like to serve? The faster you can recognize patterns, the quicker you will be able to react. If you know that they like to serve high on your body, try starting deeper in the court so the ball will be in front of you. Remember, it’s easier to move forwards than it is backward. If you’re comfortable using your hands, do that. However, keep in mind that you will need to get your body directly in line with the serve to take the ball overhead.

Lastly, what does their body look like in relation to the ball? If the server has tossed directly into their wheelhouse, be prepared for their best serve. However, if you can see that the ball is closer to their body, you will see the arm shorten – therefore a short serve is coming your way. There is SO much information coming off the server, practice calling where the serve is headed before it gets there.

Using your vision to interpret the serve before it crosses the plane of the net will improve your skills by getting you to the ball faster, and making and earlier platform. Most reception errors stem from late platform construction or not seeing where the serve will end up quick enough.

2. Make your target clear:

Do you need to have a target for passing a volleyball? Absolutely. It is unlikely you will become a great receiver if you don’t have a clear idea of where you want the ball to go. You should be picking a height as well as a location. This will vary by team, but one thing is for sure… if your setter is coming from the back row, they will thank you for a pass that’s a bit off the net and high. However, if they are on the net – they might be hungry for the opportunity to get a pass that comes directly to them. Think about your options, then visualize.

Once you have a distinct visual of what your pass should look like coming off your arms, create a platform and mimic the movement you would need to make. It should be as simple as possible with as little variation as possible. Receiving the ball relies on two things: force and direction. Making one angle and one movement is always enough to get the ball to where it needs to go.

3. Arms are faster than feet:

As important as it is to move your feet to get to the ball, the deciding factor for your reception is still coming from your arms. I would say that it is easiest and the most reliable to try to take the all from within your body line – however in my own experience, I make a much better angle outside of my body and to the left. There is plenty of resources to look into that specifically on the internet. That being said, use your arms to your advantage.

You need to read the ball and move. Your feet will get you there, but your angle is the best tool for developing a consistent and good pass. To improve your passing skills you will need to determine what works best for you and also how to make the best angle from your platform to nail your target. I feel like I need to drive this point home – the ball knows FORCE and ANGLES, therefore you must be the one to make an angle.

4. Platform angles:

I eluded to the angle your platforms need to be on several times and here is where I will elaborate. I’m not big into sweeping arm motions and doing actions that are “extra”. You do not need to swing your arms or slice at the ball. Being consistent relies on your skills being repeatable. If you can’t identify why you made a good pass or a bad pass, you need to start thinking of how your body moves.

Volleyball doesn’t need to be fancy. If you can reduce the number of variables in your game you will be able to identify exactly where the skill went wrong. If there is a lack of standardization, how will you ever decide what went wrong?

Moving forward, a simple tool to help you with improving your passing volleyball skills is to freeze your arms once you’ve made contact. Look at your arms and the result of the pass. What might you do next time? Was this the same movement you visualized before taking the serve? What was good? What was bad? These are conversations you can have with yourself between every single rep!

5. Improve your self-talk

It’s a good idea to get in the habit of self-talk. Specifically, when talking about the reception, I know that I typically need to do a better job of angling my platform down – I do that by dropping my right shoulder slightly and pulling my abs down on the right too. I flex those muscles before every rep as a reminder. Not only does this get me focused, but it gives me a very simple task to focus on. I don’t dream in passing 4’s. I shift my focus to the things my body is doing and change them based on the outcome. The outcome is simply information… a way for me to check how good I did on any particular skill.

Volleyball-passing Photo: @CEV


When you think of improving your volleyball passing, what exactly does that entail? Do you need to be better at reading the serve? Moving your feet? The angle of your platform?

By looking into each part of these skills differently you can create a focus for yourself. Pick one at a time. Shift your focus around as needed and check in with yourself. What went well? What action felt repeatable? How can you replicate the good passes? Rather than getting upset when something goes wrong, ask why It went wrong and what you should do to fix it. It will take your mind off the mistake and make it into something actionable. If you have any questions on anything I have talked about here or in another article, please feel to leave a comment down below.


What are the passing techniques in volleyball?

There are two basic passing techniques, using forearms or fingers to pass the ball. Using fingers when passing the ball can come in handy when the opponent is serving a float. Using a forearm pass will give you much better control when the opponent serves a jump spin. With jump serve, there comes more force, and it is essential to absorb all the shock so that the ball can be controlled toward the setter.

What is the correct technique for passing?

The correct technique for (forearm) passing is first to hold both forearms as close together as possible to make a flat platform. Second, have hands together; third, use legs and arms when doing a bump pass. Make a triangle shape with your thumbs and index fingers when using your fingers. When the ball is in your hands, use your wrists, not just your arms; that is easier to control. Legs are also an important part when using fingers! Remember that.

When to use Forearm pass technique

The forearm pass technique is best used in defense, in reception (Especially receiving jump spin serve), and when setting the balls that are defended or received far from the net.

When to use pass with fingers?

When setting the ball to the attacker and receiving the float serve, you should pass with your fingers. In that situation, you have little to no time to think, so you have to decide fast which technique you will use, either forearm or finger pass.

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