Playing volleyball without the sting for beginners: bumping, serving and diving

In volleyball, the ball can sting if you hit it in the wrong way. In this post, we are going to discuss how you can avoid this as much as possible so that playing volleyball stays fun. 

How to dive in volleyball without hurting yourself

Liberos and defensive players have to dive a lot. Most players wear knee pads to make sure that they don’t hit the ground too hard. Some players wear arm sleeves so that it doesn’t hurt when they slide over the ground. Arm pads are generally not worn as you need to work on your diving technique so that your arms don’t fall on the floor too hard. 

Photo by Stephen Baker on Unsplash

The main problem is that players hit the floor with their knees. This can be quite painful. Pushing yourself forward instead of towards the ground is the most important thing that you can do if you want to avoid hurting yourself when you dig. You are wearing knee pads but they only absorb so much energy. It is better to avoid putting too much pressure on them. 

It is best to step one or two steps before you dive. This helps your body to move forward instead of downwards and reduces the impact. Once you are in motion you can slide over the ground instead of crashing into it.

It is also essential that you open up your front knees. This allows your hands to pass by your knee instead of hitting it. At the same time, you get as low as possible in this way. You are just a few inches above the ground in this way and then you push yourself forward to slide over the ground. 

You should slide on your stomach instead of on your knees or hips. If you practice this, you can start slow without a ball and gradually speed things up. Eventually, you can use a ball and play with this. You build up the speed step by step. Once you master this, you can ask someone else to pass the ball towards you. Liberos are able to create spectacular saves. This can only be done by practicing for hours on end. 

The steps in bumping or diving are, therefore: step, pass, slide. 

Let’s see it in action:

How to hit a volleyball without hurting: serving and passing

There are two main ways of serving a ball: floater and topspin. When you use a floater, you hit the ball in the middle with a stretched-out hand. A topspin ball is done by folding the hand over the top of the ball. Most players struggle with a floater as you hit this with your hand stretched out. If it really hurts too much, you can bend your hand slightly. You are learning the wrong technique this way so it is not recommended to do this in the long term but it can be a great way to get started.

You can also decide to hit the ball softer. You might not be able to get it over the net this way but you are training your technique and the best way to hit the ball. Once you have mastered this, you can start to hit the ball harder and harder to get it over the net anyway. 

A pass in volleyball can be underhands as well. This means that you are holding the palms of your hands under the ball and pushing it in the air. In general, this should be quite straightforward and shouldn’t create a sting. Check with your trainer what is going wrong if it does. You will have to pass a lot in volleyball so it is essential that you get the technique right.  

How to bump a volleyball without it hurting: digging

Digging or bumping is receiving the ball after an attack of the other team and passing it to another player on your team. This is typically done with an underhand pass. You lay the back of one hand in the palm of the other. Then you fold your hands so that your two thumbs touch. The top of your thumbs should be at the same height. You should receive the ball on your underarm so that it is easy to control. At first, it might take some time to get used to the feeling but after a while, you will get used to it. Touching the ball in the right place is essential if you want to reduce the sting. The right technique is also important. Let’s learn more about this below:

Players that are just getting started can consider wearing padded arm sleeves. These are similar to regular arm sleeves but have some gel in the front of them. This gell reduces the impact and sting. This should only be a temporary solution as the gell also makes it harder to control the ball. In most instances, it is better to just keep practicing until you find the right way to receive the ball. The padded arm sleeves can become a crutch and teach you the wrong technique, leading to more stings over time. In most competitions, you won’t be allowed to wear padded arm sleeves so you should learn how to bump or dig correctly. 

Especially defensive players such as the libero have to bump a lot during a match. Therefore it is essential that they are able to master this technique. Volleyball is a fast-paced game and the ball can go back and forth very rapidly. 

To conclude, we can state that volleyball players wear some protection to make sure that they don’t get hurt. Knee pads absorb some of the impacts of touching the floor. However, when you touch the ball you have to use the right technique and this will avoid it being painful. It can take some time to get it right and you can use arm pads or padded arm sleeves in the meantime if you feel that you need this but in the long term, it is necessary to develop the correct technique. The same is true about passing and serving.