Volleyball Dig: Key Elements, Techniques, Significance, Drills

A dig is a defensive move in volleyball used to block an opponent’s attack and pass the ball to a teammate correctly, setting up a good offensive play. The main goal of a dig is to keep the ball from hitting the ground on your team’s side of the court after the other team attacks.

People who do digs are usually in the back row of the court. The player who does the dig is called the “defensive specialist” or “libero.” But every player should be good at digging because it’s an integral part of the game.

One of the most fundamental volleyball skills is digging. Moreover, diggers block the opponent’s onslaught and initiate the team’s comeback, making them undiscovered heroes. Additionally, transitioning to an offensive play is difficult without a good dig.

This tutorial explains volleyball digs, their strategies, the libero’s duty, and how they set up the assault. 

Key Elements of a Successful Volleyball Dig

To understand digs better, let’s break down the key elements that constitute a successful dig:

Key ElementsDescription
PositioningGood digging requires positioning. Defense players must be in the correct place at the right moment to counter an attack.
FootworkThe digger’s swift, flexible feet allow them to follow the ball. People moving their feet can reach the ball and pass it appropriately.
PlatformWhen touching the ball, the player’s arms and hands form the “platform.” It should create a flat surface to control the ball’s direction.
Reading the AttackerThe digger must anticipate the attacker’s shot and adjust their positioning accordingly. This involves analyzing the opponent’s body language and the angle of their approach.
Ball ContactClean and precise contact with the ball is essential. The digger must absorb and direct the ball’s energy to the intended target.
Controlled PassDigs aim to keep the ball from touching the ground and pass it accurately to a setter or attacker.
CommunicationEffective communication with teammates is crucial. The digger must convey information about the ball’s trajectory and quickly decide where to pass it.
Volleyball Dig

Techniques of a Successful Volleyball Dig

Performing a successful dig requires specific techniques and skills. Let’s explore these techniques in detail:

Low Body Position

The player should maintain a low and balanced body position with knees bent to dig effectively. This stance provides stability and quick mobility.

The digger should react swiftly to the opponent’s attack. Anticipating the direction of the ball and the attacker’s intentions is crucial.

Proper Platform

Creating a solid platform with the arms and hands is essential. The player’s forearms should form a flat, stable surface for contacting the ball.

Eyes on the Ball

Maintaining a sharp focus on the ball is key to reading its trajectory accurately. As soon as the attacker drops the ball, all eyes should be on it.

Controlled Pass

The goal is not just to get the ball but also to pass it to a partner correctly. To do this, you need to be able to control the ball’s force when it hits the surface.

Directional Control

Depending on the team’s offensive strategy, the digger should be able to pass the ball in a specific direction.

Quick Recovery

After the dig, the player should be ready to transition to their next position, whether moving to set up the attack or getting into a defensive stance for another potential dig.

Role of the Libero

In modern volleyball, the position of libero plays a distinct role in digs and overall defensive play. The libero is a specialized defensive player who wears a different colored jersey and has specific rules that allow them to enter and exit the game freely for back-row substitutions.

The libero, being the primary digger in the team, is crucial for efficiently receiving and passing the opponent’s attacks. Consequently, this specialized role enables other players to concentrate on their attacking and blocking duties.

Given the libero’s unique status, they become a critical player in the overall defensive strategy.

Role of the Libero

Setting Up for the Attack

A successful move requires more than just receiving the ball. It makes it possible for the team to fight back. This is how the process works:

Setting up a attackDescription
DigThe libero or defensive player receives the opponent’s attack and passes the ball accurately to the team’s setter or a designated passer.
SettingThe setter receives the dig, subsequently making a well-timed and accurate set to one of the team’s hitters. Consequently, the setter’s decision on which hitter to set is crucial.
AttackThey move toward the ball simultaneously as the setter throws it and quickly hits it.
Point ScoringIf the team that strikes and the ball goes into the other team’s court, they get a point.
The transition from dig to attack is a dynamic and critical phase in a volleyball rally, showcasing the importance of a well-executed dig.

Digs in Different Volleyball Formats

Digs are relevant in various formats of volleyball, including indoor, beach, sitting, and ParaVolley (standing disabled) volleyball. Here’s how digs play a role in each format:

  • Indoor Volleyball: Six players on each side of the net make up a team in classic indoor volleyball. Digs are an essential part of defense because they stop the other team’s attacks and set up the team’s attacking plays.
  • Beach Volleyball: Two people are usually on each team when beach volleyball is played. Digs in beach volleyball are even more critical, as only two players cover the court. The ability to dig effectively can determine the outcome of the match.
  • Sitting Volleyball: In sitting volleyball, designed for athletes with disabilities, digs are performed while seated. The players use their upper body strength to execute digs and play a crucial role in defense.
  • Para Volley (Standing Disabled): Para Volley, played by standing-disabled athletes, follows the same principles as indoor volleyball. Moreover, digs remain essential for defense, and the transition to attack remains a crucial aspect of the game.

The significance of digs transcends the format of the game, showcasing their importance in all variations of volleyball.

Digs in Different Volleyball Formats

Significance of the Volleyball Dig

The volleyball dig is not just a routine defensive move; it’s a game-changer with far-reaching implications. Here’s why digs are so crucial in the sport:

Scoring PreventionThe primary objective of a dig is to prevent the opponent from scoring a point with their attack. Moreover, a successful dig keeps the rally alive and gives the team a chance to counterattack.
Transition to AttackA well-executed dig sets the stage for the team’s attack. It initiates the change from defense to offense, a critical phase in the game.
Supporting TeammatesDiggers provide valuable support to their teammates by delivering accurate passes to the setter or designated passer, allowing them to make informed decisions for the attack.
Momentum ShifterA spectacular dig can shift the momentum of the game. Additionally, it energizes the defensive team, demoralizes the attacking team, and engages the crowd.
Psychological AdvantageConsistent and precise digs can create a psychological advantage. The opposing team may become anxious or demotivated when their powerful attacks are repeatedly neutralized.
Strategic ToolCoaches and teams strategically plan for digs, creating defensive formations and strategies that revolve around quick reactions and precise ball control.
Team EffortDigs exemplify the collaborative nature of volleyball. Additionally, they require communication, coordination, and trust among teammates.
You can’t say enough about how vital the volleyball dig was. It can affect the tale and game outcome as well as defend.
Significance of the Volleyball Dig

Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Players regularly make blunders that hinder the volleyball dig, which is crucial. Some are as follows:

  1. Misjudging the Ball: It’s essential to accurately read the attacker’s intentions. However, refraining from overestimating the ball’s trajectory can lead to mistimed digs. To avoid this, diligently work on your ball-reading skills through consistent practice.
  2. Inadequate Platform: A poorly formed platform can result in erratic ball direction. However, ensure your arms and hands create a solid platform by keeping your wrists together and forearms parallel.
  3. Lack of Communication: Effective communication with teammates is essential. Consequently, failure to call for the ball or signal your intentions can lead to confusion and missed opportunities.
  4. Slow Reactions: Quick reactions are critical to a successful dig. Slow movements and reactions can make it challenging to reach the ball in time. Work on your agility and reflexes.
  5. Overcommitting: Diving recklessly for a dig can lead to injuries and inaccurate passes. However, maintaining control and choosing your digs wisely is crucial, especially when considering the ball’s trajectory.
  6. Poor Footwork: Inadequate footwork can result in difficulty reaching the ball. Work on your footwork to ensure you’re in the right position to execute a dig effectively.
  7. Lack of Versatility: A predictable dig can make it easier for the opponent to anticipate and counter your play. However, develop a range of digging techniques to keep the defense unpredictable.
Common Mistakes to avoid while dig

Drills to Improve Your Volleyball Dig Skills

Volleyball dig skills can be honed through targeted drills and practice. Here are some drills to help you improve your digging ability:

Reaction Time DrillSet up a practice scenario where you react to a coach or teammate’s attacks. This drill enhances your quick reactions and ball-reading skills.
Platform PerfectionFocus on forming a solid platform with your forearms and hands. Additionally, practice passing with precision and control, aiming for consistent and accurate passes.
Communication PracticeWork on communication with your teammates. Additionally, use hand signals or verbal cues to indicate who will make the dig. Clear communication, in particular, can prevent misunderstandings.
Defensive PositioningPractice your defensive positioning by simulating game scenarios. Work on moving quickly to the right spot and adjusting to the attacker’s shots.
Game-Like ScenariosSimulate real game situations in practice, complete with attackers and blockers. Additionally, this helps you practice digs under pressure and in dynamic situations.
Versatility DrillsDevelop various digging techniques, including overhead digs, one-handed digs, and roll shots. Additionally, versatility in your digging skills can keep the opponent guessing.
Drills to Improve Your Volleyball Digging Skills


What is digger in volleyball?

A volleyball “digger” specializes in defensive plays, particularly receiving or “digging” the opponent’s attacks. An effective digger controls and redirects the ball to prevent it from hitting their team’s floor.

What is a dig bump in volleyball?

A volleyball “dig bump” is a mix of “digging” (receiving an opponent’s attack) and “bumping” (passing the ball with forearms). Defenders need both skills to control and pass the ball accurately to set up subsequent plays.

What is position 3 in volleyball?

Position 3 is the left front of the volleyball court facing the net. Position 3 players block at the net, dig, and possibly play offensively. Players switch positions throughout play.

What is the difference between a pass and a dig in volleyball?

A volleyball “pass” and a “dig” both require receiving the ball, but their context and technique differ. A pass sets up an offensive play by controlling the ball with the forearms. A dig, on the other hand, involves defensively taking a hard-driven attack from the opponent and employing forearm passing to keep the ball from falling. Both attacking and defensive skills are essential in volleyball.

What are kills and digs in volleyball?

Volleyball “kills” are offensive plays that score a point by delivering the ball to the opponent’s court. On defense, “digs” involve skillfully receiving and passing the opponent’s attacks to keep the ball. Kills and digs are key to offensive and defensive strategy.


In conclusion, the volleyball dig is a fundamental skill that forms the backbone of successful defense and transitions into offense. It’s a skill that requires quick reactions, precise technique, and effective communication with teammates.

You become an invaluable asset to your team by mastering the art of digging. Whether you play volleyball or love it, you should see the amazing digs. They are the game’s hidden heroes because they can turn a defensive play offensive.

Whether diving to the floor for a pancake dig or making a lightning-fast reaction to save the ball, the volleyball dig is a captivating and essential aspect of the game.

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