What is carry or lift in volleyball? Answered

Carry or lift are both violations in volleyball. It means that you are holding the ball too long. In volleyball, you are only allowed to touch the ball for a brief moment. If you take too long, the referee will whistle and the other team will get a point as you didn’t follow the rules. Ball-control is essential in volleyball and once you are starting to hold the ball in your hands, you gain an unfair advantage. The short three-ball touches per attack are an integral part of playing volleyball.  This is therefore not allowed on all levels of volleyball, from high school to college volleyball. Even touching the ball for a few seconds too long can result in a lift or carry so you have to play quickly when you touch the ball in volleyball. 

This is often one of the first things that a coach works on with newer players as it is a common error. Newer players often don’t realize what is allowed and what not and just holding the ball for a very short period of time can already result in a violation of the rules. It is a small nuance but players need to learn that volleyball works with short touches. You can’t keep the ball with you for too long. This makes sure that players need to be able to control the ball and work on their technique. We have discussed the 5 basic volleyball skills before here. 

This is actually quite unique about this sport as in a lot of other sports you are allowed to run with the ball and to hold it for a long period of time. In some instances, players can hog the ball and try to score themselves. This is not possible in volleyball and makes it necessary that you work together. Volleyball is, therefore, a team sport and you have to work with each other strengths to defend and score.

What is a lift in volleyball?  Lift vs carry (or holding) in volleyball explained

There is a small difference between lift and carry (or holding). Lift is holding the ball too long while you are bringing the ball upwards (lifting up the ball). Carry is holding the ball too long while you move the ball forwards or backward (carrying the ball). Both of these result in the same violation but just make it clearer to the players what they are doing wrong. High school students might make this mistake but it seldomly happens that college students or professional players do this as they make sure that their ball control is good enough.

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 A lift error is often performed when the ball is low and players want to make sure that the ball doesn’t touch the ground. You can use your fist or the lower part of your hand to push the ball back in the air. This makes sure that you don’t hold the ball for too long. It is harder to control the ball in this way but you have to work on your technique and eventually, it will be possible to pass in a controlled way with a fist as well.

This error is commonly made after the other team has attacked. It can be quite hard to control the ball after a serve or spike as the ball has a lot of speed. You have to be able to dig or dive to keep the ball in the air. It can also be made after the player has received a bad or unexpected pass. Volleyball players have to be attentive and be able to deal with unexpected passes. A lot is going on at the same time and for newer players, it can be overwhelming and they might make mistakes. 

What is a lifting violation in volleyball?

A lifting violation is the same as lift. The referee will indicate this error by using specific hand signals. Rule 9.2.2 of the International Volleyball Federation states the following:

The ball may not be caught and/or thrown. It can be rebound in any direction.

This basic rule of volleyball clearly indicates that you can let the ball bounce on your hands but you can’t have prolonged contact with it. This would make it too easy to play as you can just catch the ball instead of using the correct hand posture to control the ball. 

Rule 9.3.3 also states that:

Catch: the ball is caught and/or thrown if it does not rebound from the hit.

This further clarifies that the ball needs to bounce on your hand and that you can’t hold the ball for a long period of time. Catching involves two actions (catching and rebounding) while rebounding only involves one (rebounding). This still leaves some room for interpretation and referees to have to make judgment calls based on what they feel is prolonged contact and what isn’t. In defense, it is often clear but in offense, there is some room for different opinions Especially when a player tips (instead of spikes), there can be some discussion as the ball is touched quite slowly for this. Let’s take an example of such an action below:

 This can lead to some discussions but in general, the referee won’t change their mind after a call. Catching the ball is therefore not allowed in volleyball. This is also the case in beach volleyball, pool volleyball snow volleyball, and all other variations on this sport.

To conclude, we can state that both carry and lifting are violations in volleyball that indicate that you have held the ball in your hands for too long. This can help players understand what they are doing wrong and avoid this in the future. Players need to improve their ball control to avoid this in the future. The other team gets a point if this happens so it should be avoided at all costs.