Beach Volleyball 101: Olympic terminology and glossary (2024)

Ace: A serve that lands in the opponent's court without that team making contact with it, or with the receiver of the serve unsuccessfully contacting the ball, causing it to travel out of play

Attack: The final offensive step in sending the ball back over the net

Attack-hit: All actions directing the ball toward the opponent's playing area, except the acts of serving and bumping

Block: Jumping up and reaching over the net with both hands in an attempt to stop the opposing team's attack

Bump set: An alternative to hand setting, this is usually seen when a player does not have time to get to the ball in time to set it, or is less skilled in setting and is trying to avoid a ball-handling violation

Chicken wing: A one-armed defensive play

Cross-court shot: An attack directed at an angle from one end of the offensive team's side of the net to the opposite sideline of the defensive team's court

Cut shot: A slower attack shot at a sharp angle that lands close the net

Dig: When a player prevents the ball from touching the sand or going out of bounds, usually by diving

Dink: A soft shot played by the attacking player just over the net or the blocker's hands

Float serve: A serve that has no spin and "floats" while in the air, making it difficult for opposing passers to predict its ultimate direction or flight path

Foot fault: Stepping on the court or outside the width of the court before serving the ball

Forearm pass: A ball-handling skill where players contact the ball using the undersides of both forearms as the contact surface. This is usually used when receiving a serve or playing defense.

Hit: Touching the ball as an offensive player. A team is allowed three hits to send the ball back over the net.

Husband-and-wife: A play in which players don't communicate and the ball drops between them

Joust: A battle above the height of the net between two players contacting the ball at the same time

Jump serve: An aggressive serve where the ball is thrown high in the air and the server jumps and contacts the ball in a similar fashion to an attack, sending the ball toward the opposing team with increased velocity and, most often, topspin

Kill: An attack that results in an immediate point

Left side: A player that passes and attacks starting on the left side of the court

Lift: A fault called if the referee judges that the ball has come to rest in a player's hands

Line shot: An individual attack that starts on the outside of the court and is directed straight along the defensive team's sideline. It can be performed from both sides of the court.

Lollipop: A very easy serve or light serve

Loopy: An attack with less velocity, usually placed over the block and either deep down the line or cross-court. Also referred to as a "roll shot."

Red card: A penalty given for unsportsmanlike conduct resulting in a point being awarded to the other team

Right side: A player that passes and attacks starting on the right side of the court

Roof: When the blocker or blockers form a wall in front of the opposing attacker, propelling the attempted attack straight back and down on the attacker's side of the net

Screening: An illegal tactic by a player or players to block the view of their teammate's serve from the opposing team

Serve: To put the ball into play

Set: The tactical attempt to direct the ball to a predetermined spot where an attacker is expecting it to be

Shank: An unsuccessful attempt to pass the ball, usually resulting in the ball being deflected out of play

Shot: An attack in which placement of the ball to a certain spot on the opponent's court is more important than the speed at which it is hit. The strategy is to hit a "shot" to a location where the defensive player will have trouble controlling it.

Side out: Occurs when the receiving team effectively puts the ball away against the serving team, or when the serving team commits an unforced error and, as a result, the receiving team gains the right to serve

Sizzle the pits: A low, hard spike that travels under the blocker's arms

Spike: An aggressive swing at the ball by an attacker, sending it over the net with velocity

Stuff block: An attempted attack that is blocked straight back down on the attacker's side of the net by the opponent's block

Sun serve: An unusually high serve, usually done underhand, that forces players to look up into the sun and potentially lose track of the ball. The technique, perfected by Sinjin Smith, is also referred to as a "Skyball serve."

Throw: A fault called if the referee judges that the ball has come to rest in the hands, arms, or body of the player while making contact with the ball

Tool: When the attacker hits a ball that ricochets off the block, resulting in a point. Also referred to as "using the block."

Touch: When a spiked or attacked ball deflects out of bounds off the hands or body of the opposing team. Sometimes these "touches" are very slight and tough to detect because of the speed of the ball.

Yellow card: A warning given to a player by the referee

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Beach Volleyball 101: Olympic terminology and glossary (2024)
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