Beach Volleyball 101: Glossary

Beach Volleyball 101: Glossary
Posted at 3:20 PM, Mar 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-25 15:55:44-04


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. 


The final offensive step in sending the ball back over the net. 


All actions directing the ball toward the opponent's playing area, except the acts of serving and bumping. 


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. 


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


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. 


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


A play in which players don't communicate and the ball drops between them. 


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 towards the opposing team with increased velocity and, most often, topspin. 


An attack that results in an immediate point. 

Left side

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


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. 


A very easy serve or light serve


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. 


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. 


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


To put the ball into play. 


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


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


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. 


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." 


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. 


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


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.