Pancake Volleyball: Drills, Physical & Mental Aspects

Pancake volleyball, a skillful play that involves saving a ball just above the floor using the back of the hand, has become a crucial technique in modern volleyball. This defensive move requires precision and quick reflexes, making it a captivating game aspect.

Understanding the Pancake Technique

The pancake technique, often executed as a last-ditch effort, showcases a player’s agility and strategic thinking. Teams can extend rallies and turn the game’s tide by preventing the ball from hitting the ground.

This maneuver is not limited to professionals; amateur players can also master this skill with practice and dedication.

Pancake Technique in volleyball

How To Pancake In Volleyball

To execute a successful pancake, follow these steps:

Anticipate The BallPosition yourself where you anticipate the ball will land, usually in the path of an oncoming spike or attack.
Lower Your BodyGet low to the ground by bending your knees, keeping your weight forward, and staying on the balls of your feet.
Extend Your ArmAs the ball approaches, extend your arm fully towards the floor, with the palm facing down.
Flatten Your HandFlatten your hand and fingers against the floor, ensuring maximum surface contact.
Slide On The FloorSlide your hand along the floor, allowing the ball to bounce off your hand and remain in play.
Follow ThroughContinue sliding and follow through with your body to ensure a controlled and successful pancake.
PracticeRegularly practice pancake drills to improve your reflexes, timing, and technique.
Remember to stay focused, react quickly, and commit to the pancake technique to effectively save the ball from hitting the ground.
How To Pancake In Volleyball

Volleyball Pancake Drills

Two-Ball Passing Drill

Objective: Improve reaction time and precision.

Execution: Work in pairs with two balls. One player throws a ball and the other practices pancake technique. Rotate roles.

Solo Pancake Drill

Objective: Enhance individual pancake skills.

Execution: Toss the ball to yourself, focus on quick hand placement, and practice the pancake motion. Repeat to refine the technique.

Pancake Relay

Objective: Build endurance and teamwork.

Execution: Form teams and set up a relay race. Each player must perform a successful pancake before the next teammate begins.

Target Practice Drill

Objective: Enhance accuracy in pancake placement.

Execution: Set up targets on the floor and aim to pancake the ball onto specific spots. Adjust distance and difficulty as skills improve.

Simulated Game Situations

Objective: Apply pancake in real-game scenarios.

Execution: Create game-like situations where players must use the pancake technique to save the ball during practice matches.

Reaction Drill

Objective: Develop quick reflexes.

Execution: Have a coach or teammate randomly toss balls; players must react swiftly with a pancake. Vary the direction and speed of the throws.

Pancake volleyball drills

Physical Aspects of a Volleyball Pancake

The pancake is a defensive dig technique characterized by specific physical aspects

Sr NoPhysical AspectDescription
1Hand Placement
The player extends their hand flat on the ground, fingers together, forming a pancake-like shape.
2Flat PalmThe palm remains flat against the floor, creating a broad surface to contact the ball.
3Quick ReactionExecuted as a rapid reaction to a low and fast-approaching ball, often close to the floor.
4One-Handed DiveTypically performed as a one-handed dive, where the player reaches for the ball with an extended arm.
5Ground ContactThe goal is for the ball to contact the floor in the same spot where the hand is placed.
6Last-Resort TechniqueOften employed as a last-resort defensive move when conventional digging methods are challenging.
Understanding and mastering these physical aspects are crucial for effective pancake execution.
Physical Aspects of a Volleyball Pancake

Mental Aspects of a Volleyball Pancake

The pancake technique involves not only physical skills but also specific mental aspects for successful execution:

Sr NoMental AspectDescription
1Quick Decision-MakingPlayers need rapid decision-making skills to recognize when a pancake is the most suitable defensive move.
2Spatial AwarenessUnderstanding the court’s spatial dynamics is crucial to positioning oneself effectively for the pancake.
3Focus And ConcentrationMaintaining focus on the ball’s trajectory and anticipating its path is essential for a successful pancake.
4AdaptabilityBeing adaptable to unpredictable ball movements requires mental flexibility during fast-paced play.
5ConfidenceConfidence in one’s ability to execute the pancake maneuver is key to attempting this challenging defensive technique.
6Situational AwarenessBeing aware of the game situation, including the score and the opponent’s playing style, informs when to employ the pancake.
7Composure Under PressurePerforming the pancake under pressure situations demands mental composure and resilience.
8Team CommunicationCommunicating effectively with teammates to ensure coordinated defensive efforts enhances the overall effectiveness of the pancake.
Understanding and developing these mental aspects contribute significantly to mastering the art of the pancake dive.
Mental Aspects of a Volleyball Pancake

Situations Where the Volleyball Pancake is Most Useful

The pancake technique is most useful in the following situations:

  1. Low Balls
    • The pancake becomes a valuable defensive option when the ball is close to the ground, making it challenging to perform a traditional dig.
  2. Fast and Unexpected Plays
    • When the opposing team executes fast and unexpected plays, the pancake allows players to react quickly and save the ball from hitting the ground.
  3. Last-Resort Defense
    • As a last-resort defensive move, especially when other defensive techniques are impractical or unavailable, the pancake can prevent the ball from scoring.
  4. Diving Plays
    • When players need to dive to the floor to reach the ball, the pancake is a specialized diving technique that can be employed to make a successful defensive play.
  5. Close To The Net
    • When the ball is close to the net, and traditional digging techniques might result in touching the net, the pancake allows players to keep the ball in play without violating net rules.
  6. Critical Points In The Game
    • During crucial points in a game, where every point matters, utilizing the pancake can be a strategic move to extend rallies and maintain momentum.

Understanding the situations where the pancake is most effective enhances a player’s defensive capabilities on the court.

Situations Where the Volleyball Pancake is Most Useful

Key Components of a Successful Pancake

Mastering the pancake requires learning the fundamentals of body positioning, timing, and hand placement. This defensive gem adds flair to the game, captivating audiences and inspiring aspiring players.

The simplicity of the pancake, coupled with its impact on the match, contributes to its widespread recognition.

Pancake in Action

Whether watching professional matches or participating in local games, witnessing a well-executed pancake is a moment of sheer brilliance. Players employ this move to thwart powerful spikes and keep the ball in play, showcasing the beauty of defensive play in volleyball.

Evolution of Pancake

Initially an improvised move, the pancake has evolved into a specialized skill taught in training programs worldwide. Its popularity lies in its effectiveness as a defensive measure and the excitement it brings to the game.

Coaches emphasize its importance, encouraging players to integrate this technique into their repertoire.


What is a hammer in volleyball?

A “hammer” in volleyball refers to a powerful and forceful spike or attack performed by a player, usually aimed downward with great velocity to overcome the opponent’s defense. It showcases strength and precision in offensive play.

What is an ace in volleyball?

An ace in volleyball occurs when a serve lands in the opponent’s court untouched or if touched, cannot be effectively returned, earning a point for the serving team. It showcases the server’s skill in delivering a difficult-to-handle serve.

What is glass volleyball?

Glass volleyball typically refers to a style of volleyball that is played on sand courts, often near beaches or recreational areas. The term may also refer to the material of the volleyball itself, emphasizing transparency or a unique design.

What is oppo in volleyball?

In volleyball, “oppo” is short for “opposite hitter,” a position responsible for attacking from the right side of the court, complementing the outside hitter.

What is 2 fingers in volleyball?

In volleyball, the term “2 fingers” typically refers to a two-finger hand signal used by players to indicate a specific play or strategy, often during a quick set or attack. It’s a non-verbal communication method widely used in the sport.


In conclusion, pancake is more than just a move; it’s a testament to the sport’s dynamism and the skill required to excel. As players continue to embrace and refine this technique, its popularity is poised to endure, adding a layer of excitement and finesse to the world of volleyball.

Remember, successful incorporation of the pancake requires consistent practice and dedication. Players at all levels can enhance their gameplay by mastering this distinctive defensive maneuver.

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