Beginner’s Guide to Volleyball


Volleyball is always one of those fun go-to sports when you’re surrounded with friends on the perfect summer afternoon. However, the fun can quickly get sucked out of the game when you realize you’re not automatically Misty May when you have a volleyball thrown your way. Things can get even more complicated when you try to take control over the ball but you and your body never seem to come to an agreement on the direction it should go.

When my friends and I decided to form an intramural volleyball team last semester, I decided I needed to learn the raw how-to’s of the game. I realized that I always gravitated towards impersonating fancy moves I had seen somewhere. After taking a couple of volleyball clinics and reading up on more volleyball self-help articles, the best advice I finally found for beginners was to know your basics.

Yes, I know, you want to do the cool stuff, but you can’t do it…yet. Everyone has heard of bump, set, spike and serve but what do these things even mean?


Here are the steps to bumping, the primary move used to play volleyball, accurately laid out for beginners.

  1. Always be in a ready position, especially when the other team has the ball because it can come at you at any time. A ready position is when you have your knees bent and your hands straight in front of you. Your feet should be shoulder length apart.
  2. Keep your elbows straight.
  3. Lock your hands.
  4. Push up with your legs to give you power. Don’t swing your arm. You’re not playing baseball.
  5. Move your body and point your shoulders towards the direction you want the ball to go.
  6. Let the ball bounce off of your forearm.


This is when the ball is not bouncing off your forearm, but rather you’re pushing off from your finger tips. Setting is used usually when you are closer to the net or person you want to pass the ball.

  1. Your hands should form a triangle. The first 3 fingers are the most powerful and many people only use three fingers to set. However, if that’s too hard your whole hands works fine.
  2. Level and push off from your legs for power.


If you still want to impress your friends and feel like a pro even though you’re a beginner then spiking is the way to go.

Spiking involves taking 3 steps, when the ball is coming at you.

  1. If you are right handed, step with your left foot first. Step left, right, left.
  2. Jump!
  3. Swing your dominant arm then flick your wrist down as you hit the ball with the palm of your hand and land your feet back on the ground.

Even after learning the steps to spiking timing is extremely important. But don’t get discouraged and just keep practicing.


There are two ways you can serve:

  1. Underhand – hold the ball with your non-dominant hand. With your other hand, clench your fist, swing and hit the ball will the palm (fleshy part) of your clenched fist (avoid your fingers). I recommend this way of serving to all beginners.
  2. Overhand – throw the ball straight up, about 2 feet above your hand, take one step, and hit the ball with your open palm.

I’ve learned the hard way that you have to practice, practice, practice to get the ball to obey you. But the great part of it is that practicing is fun and a great workout! Volleyball is one of those sports that work every part of your body, from your core, to your butt and to your legs. That’s enough incentive for me to abandon my treadmill and go for the volleyball court.


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