Volleyball Glossary

Air BallWhen an attacker swings at the ball and misses it completely. Air balls are always the fault of the setter and no correspondence will be entered into.
Assault Course BlockWhere a blocker appears to be trying to climb up the (cargo) net in order to reach the ball.
Block FodderA set very tight to the net, under or into the hands of the block. Usually the result of a trap set.
BomberA hitter who always hits the ball as hard as they possibly can, irrespective of the state of the match, quality of the set, current form or previous results of using this tactic (cf. Sniper).
Campfire DefensePlayers form a circle around the ball and let it drop between them (they often stretch our their hands to keep them warm, too).
Chicken wing defenceUsually seen with a hard spike directly at a defender; the defender has little time to take evasive action and so merely raises his elbow to deflect the ball away in chicken wing-like pose.
Coach KillThe opposition serve the ball into the net or out immediately after a time-out or substitution called by the coach. The coach is also awarded a point if he/she substitutes in a player to serve, and that player immediately scores an ace.
Couldn't Dig His Own GraveA characteristic of a very tall middle blocker.
Couldn't Pass WaterAnother characteristic of very tall middle blockers.
Credit Card DefenseNormally after a tip - the defence players are all charging.
Dark SideWhat Cambridge call Oxford. The name arises because Cambridge's colour is Light Blue and Oxford's is Dark Blue. And also because Oxford are evil.
Deep DishA set, volley or overhand pass where the ball is dragged down to shoulder, chest or even navel level before being released. Contact time is often sufficient for the player in question to check the pressure of the ball or read the maker's name off it. The Loughborough Men's team receive serve thus. See also Edward Suckerhands.
Digging lipsSuccessfully defending hard-hit spikes. Thought to be so-called due to the lip-like shape that the arms make in the correct digging position. A player making successive spectacular plays would be said to have their "digging lips on".
Down-RefThe second referee (cf. Up-Ref).
DowntownA player is said to have 'gone downtown' when he/she serves the ball into the bottom of the net (or even short of the net).
Dump Where an attacker feigns a hard attack but plays the ball gently over the net into space (ideally). See also tip. A setter dump occurs when the setter plays the first pass directly over the net rather than setting to an attacker. A setter who dumps on a good pass is a brave man, since failure to score will invariably invoke the wrath of his hitters.
Edward SuckerhandsA player who carries the ball when making a set (see also deep dish).
ErosPlaying the ball with one arm whilst sticking one leg out the other way (in the manner of the statue).
FacialWhat you get when a spike hits you in the face. See six-pack and Mikasa tattoo.
FloaterA float serve. When hit without spin, a volleyball will deviate unpredictably (or "float") in flight as it reaches a critical velocity. Good float serves are notoriously hard to pass. The advent of coloured balls has enabled passers to see when a ball is served without spin, and therefore helps them to predict when they are about to shank the ball.
Free NetAn attacker has no block and can pick their spot on court. Tragically players in such circumstances usually choose the bottom of the net or four metres up the back wall.
Friendly FireBeing hit in the back of the head by a service from a team-mate.
Frontcourt handsWhen the setter (the "hands") is in a front row position (cf. Backcourt hands)
GeishaA roundarm floating service performed with a hook-like action originally used by Chinese and Japanese teams (i.e. Japanese hooker).
Go for the handsSee tool shot.
Grenade AttackVarious attackers move all over the court in a fiendishly complex offensive combination - but the ball drops slowly to the ground between them.
HammerA very, very hard attack which sends the ball into the floor in the manner of a nail into a plank of wood.
HeatHitting power. A player who hits the ball very hard is said to "bring the heat". Similarly, it can be said that a puny attacker "doesn't add much warmth to the offence".
Hitting in a phone boothDescription used for a hitter who is getting blocked repeatedly.
HopsJumping ability. A player who regularly jumps out of the gym is said to possess "serious hops".
Husband-And-Wife PlayTwo players completely fail to communicate with each other as the ball drops between them.
Jedi defenceA very rare play where a defender stands stock still and merely thrusts out one arm towards the ball, which somehow ends up on the setter's head. Only the mystical powers of the Force can explain such a defence.
JoustTwo opposing players contact the ball simultaneously above the plane of the net. Jousts are always won by setters, irrespective of the height or hand size of their opponents.
Jump FloaterHybrid floating serve performed with a jumping approach. It is compulsory to prance up to the service line in a camp fashion when making such serves.
JumperA jump serve. Such serves are usually hit with pace and plenty of topspin. Most male players will attempt a jumper when there are female spectators in the vicinity. There are two main types of jump serve: net and out. The much rarer third species, the ace, is not usually seen below national levels.
LassieThe name bestowed upon a defender who deliberately intercepts a ball travelling miles out of the back of court, usually shanking it even further up into the wall/stands/balcony. Named after the popular canine matinee idol (since they have rushed in to save the day - for the attacker, at least). Bombers will often incorrectly describe winning a point in this way as "going for the hands".
LollipopA very gentle serve. So-called because if you serve too many lollipops you get licked.
MarbleA very hard, stinging ball with the tactile and ballistic characeristics of a small rock. Used to describe cheap volleyballs (frequently bearing the hilariously inaccurate promise of being "non-sting" or "soft touch").
Mickey Mouse BlockA blocker is slow getting his arms up, so that at the critical moment his hands are still at the side of his head - and look like large ears.
Mikasa TattooImprint of ball on forehead. Usually the result of a six-pack or a peek-a-boo block.
MooseUK: A stuff block. Traditional celebration is to raise the hands to the side of the head to symbolise antlers.
US: A very hard hitter of the ball.
NectarA sweet, sweeeet pass or set.
Obsolete CallsMany team calls popular in the 80s and 90s are now obsolete and should not be heard outside of the primate enclosure of a zoo. Examples include "747... zoom", "The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire", "Let's go [name of team, preferably two syllables], let's go" and ANY call involving the phrase "Eh-up". Note that continental Europe lags behind Britain somewhat in its fashions, and obsolete calls may still be used there to good effect.
Passing nailsReceiving serve such that the ball lands directly on the setter's head without him/her having to move.
Peek-A-Boo BlockA blocker with his arms just wide enough apart for the ball to travel through the gap into his face/head.
PinsThe antennae. A team relying on mainly outside sets is said to be playing 'pinball'.
Pinball DefenseFast ball rebounds from player to player and back over the net without them knowing anything about it.
Pipe AttackThe pipe is the back middle channel and is a common position for a backrow attack. A player who is effective on this play is said to be "smoking the pipe".
Playing SixpackPlaying the line digger position against an outside attack. This position is the closest to the attacker and is frequently exposed by the blockers choosing to block angle. A good, hard line spike will therefore give the line digger no time to defend himself, with often painful results.
Prince of WhalesA player whose spikes frequently endanger spectators in the viewers' balcony. See also whaling.
RedwoodA very tall middle blocker with the height and mobility of a very tall tree.
RoofBig block at the net straight down to end a rally.
ShankAwful pass that flies off the arms and goes way up into the cheap seats.
Six-PackGiving an opponent a facial. Named after the traditional reward bestowed on the player who has dealt it out. See also Playing Sixpack.
SniperA hitter who uses cunning rather than power to pick off points through gaps in the block and defence. Shorter players are much more likely to be snipers than bombers (if they ever want to get a game, that is).
StuffMonstrous block straight down into the floor. A true stuff block should hit the ground before the hitter lands.
TipAn attack lobbed gently over the block by the attacker. Also known as a dump.
Tool ShotDeliberately hitting the ball off the block to score a point. The staple attack of a sniper, "tooling the block" is a risky tactic, with unsuccessful attempts frequently ending up as whaling or stuff blocks.
Trap SetA set very tight to the net and often very low, giving the hitter no options but to get stuffed. See also block fodder.
Trees and BushesNames commonly applied to tall and short players, respectively.
Twelve-PackSimilar to a six-pack, but the victim is also knocked off his feet.
Up-RefThe first referee (cf. Down-Ref).
WaiterSlang term for the off-blocker in most defensive schemes (he's there to pick up tips - geddit?).
WhalingHitting the ball a very long way out.
Wipe-offAn attacker deliberately steers the ball into the block with the intention of it rebounding out of court. Also known as "going for the hands" and "tooling the block"

Definitions by Richard White
Copyright CUVC 2001